Beneficiaries of Mercy

Good morning. It is Saturday, January 3, 2015. 93 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “alrightnik.” The meaning is, “Chiefly in Jewish usage: a person who has succeeded in life financially but is regarded as vulgar or self-satisfied; a nouveau-riche person, an arriviste.”

Today is Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. If only we had some left.

The drive to work, yesterday, turned out fine. It rained the whole trip, but the temp stayed above freezing all day. The work day went very smoothly, and we got off early again. I left work shortly after 3:00 PM. We had spaghetti for dinner last night, cooked at home, as we have embarked on a new plan to eat more healthy at the beginning of this year. We got completely caught up on past seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and just in time, as the new season begins in just over a week. Then we watched a so-so movie, called Good People, which featured James Franco and Kate Hudson. As I was hunting around in Netflix after that, I stumbled across a movie called Knights of Badassdom. Yes, the title is somewhat crude, but the movie turned out being quite entertaining. I would bill it as a “dark comedy,” as it definitely has comedic elements throughout, but also has some quite horrific moments in the latter half. What enticed me to even watch it (certainly not the title) was the featured actors. Peter Dinklage (how can you not watch a movie with Peter Dinklage??), Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten (Jason in True Blood), and Summer Glau. The fact that Summer Glau was in it was the final draw for me. She, of course, played “River” in Firefly and Serenity. The film was about a group of “LARPers.” That stands for “Live Action Role Play.” Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Jimmi Simpson was also in the movie. He plays Liam McPoyle in It’s Always Sunny. He also has a part in House of Cards.

As we were watching TV, a thunderstorm came along. My initial reaction being, “Was that thunder??” It was creepy thunder, too, the kind you might expect at Frankenstein’s castle, just as he is about to activate the monster. Right before we went to bed, there was one that literally shook the house. One of my friends, who lives in Hurst, said he lost power, shortly before midnight. A relative of mine, who lives in Jasper, Texas, said that they got an emergency warning at 3:11 AM that there was a tornado warning!! But all appears to be well, this morning.

Today is probably a typical Saturday. Christi will probably go out and get groceries, later, and then we will have our usual prayer gathering and worship service this evening.Tonight will be unique, as it will be a service of worship and prayer, and the pastor will only speak for a few moments at the very beginning. We are focusing on prayer for the year ahead, for our church. As the leader of the prayer ministry for our church, I get to have a pretty big part in this. I’m a little nervous about that. Our pre-service prayer gatherings is at 4:45, and our worship service is at 5:45. We are The Exchange.

(Source: Wikipedia)
It was on this date in 1977 that Apple Computer was incorporated.

Today’s birthdays include Cicero, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Milland, Victor Borge, John Sturges, Maxene Andrews, Hank Stram, George Martin, Sergio Leone, Robert Loggia, Dabney Coleman, Bobby Hull, Stephen Stills, John Paul Jones (the one from Led Zeppelin), Victoria Principal, Mel Gibson, Nichole Nordeman, Danica McKellar, A.J. Burnett, and Eli Manning.

Wow. That’s a lot of big names. George Martin, an English record producer, is 89 years old today. He is frequently referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” due to his extensive involvement in the production of all of their original albums. He also composed and conducted the string accompaniment for “Eleanor Rigby.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:1-6

David, having been made king by divine appointment, was thoroughly confident in God, as people conspired against him. The grounds of this confidence was “that he only followed the call of God.” David was confident that God would “show himself the defender of the kingdom of which he was the founder.” He will also “not forsake the work of his own hands.” David was aware that he “reigned only by the authority and command of God.”

With all of this in mind, we know, then, that “all who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God.” Anyone who refuses to obey Jesus Christ denies the authority of God, regardless of what they may say or profess.

We may also rest assured that there is nothing that any man can do to obscure the glory of God. We should be encouraged by the fact that, no matter how powerful wicked men may seem to be, God’s power transcends theirs, infinitely.

(From Knowing Jesus)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

“God gave his Son the name Jesus.” It is “the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9) “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Everything we do, in regards to our heavenly Father, we do “in the name of Jesus.”

Who is Jesus? He is “God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, and God in our human flesh.” He is “the unique Son of God, the only begotten of the Father.”

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) When we call upon the name of Jesus, “we invoke all the attributes of deity, his holiness, his creative power, his wisdom–everything that God is, Jesus is.” (I do not agree 100% with that statement . . . Jesus is not the Father, nor is Jesus the Holy Spirit. God is all three of these, Jesus is only one of the three.)

On the other hand, the name, “Jesus,” was fairly ordinary. This gives us hope in that he was like us in his humanity, susceptible to sin and the effects of it. Nevertheless, he went without sin, and always fully pleased the Father. He is humanity and deity combined in one person.

Jesus is the central point of the entire Word of God, and is referred to by almost 200 different names, titles, and metaphors. Angels appeared to Mary and Joseph, as his impending birth was announced. Mary was told, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32) The angel told Joseph, “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) The meaning of his name, Jesus, or “Yeshua” in Hebrew, is “God (or YHWH) saves.” John tells us, in the first chapter of his Gospel, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“What does the name of Jesus signify or represent to you?
“How can you allow Jesus to exercise his wisdom, love, and authority in your life?”

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to be my Savior. May his supremacy in my life determine the choices I make.”

Today’s reading from Solid Joys is “The Smallest Faith.”

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Romans 9:16

It would do us well to acknowledge that, in one way or another, everything that we, as believers in Jesus, will receive from God this year, is mercy. “Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy.” One of the primary reasons that Jesus came into the world was “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:9) We were born again, “According to his great mercy.” (1 Peter 1:3) Daily, we draw near to the throne of God, “that we may receive mercy.” (Hebrews 4:16) And while we remain on this earth, we are always “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 21)

When the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, he spoke of mustard seeds and uprooting mountains. “In other words, the issue in your Christian life and ministry is not the strength or quantity of your faith, because that is not what uproots trees. God does. Therefore, the smallest faith that truly connects you with Christ will engage enough of his power for all you need.”

But, then, based on Jesus’s words in Luke 17:7-10, even the “fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.” We must constantly be aware that we “never rise above the status of beneficiaries of mercy.”

Father, may I never forget mercy. May I never fall from a place where I acknowledge that I am nothing more than a beneficiary of your mercy. Everything that I receive from you is mercy. Even the pain that I occasionally feel in my body is mercy. The trials that I go through on a daily basis are mercy. These are all mercy because what I deserve is death and punishment for sin. Thank you that Jesus came to take that for me. Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith; Jesus, the name above every name; Jesus, the second person of the Trinity; Jesus your only begotten Son; Jesus, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. May I surrender everything in my life to him today and every day.

Father, this year is beginning on quite a good note for us, so far. We are grateful for every blessing that comes our way. But let us not begin to expect them. Rather keep us grateful, and make us remember that these blessings are also mercy.

I pray for this day. As we go out to have lunch in a little bit, may we be safe as we go. I pray for closeness as a family. As we prepare for tonight’s prayer and worship, make our hearts totally dependent upon you. I pray for Stephanie as she helps out with the children, that her heart will be drawn closer to yours. I pray for the times of prayer that we will experience tonight, as a church. As we look forward to what you will do in 2015, may we fall on our knees and faces before you, acknowledging that everything we receive from you is mercy. I pray for direction, provision, and growth for our church this year.

As you walk away from this blog today, as I walk away from this devotional, I pray for one thing to occupy our minds: mercy. We are all (even those who do not profess to believe in Christ) recipients of his mercy every single minute!

Grace and peace, friends.

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