The Whole Story

When my father-in-law was still on his faith journey he asked me, “How can you reconcile the differences in God’s temperaments in the Bible? In the Old Testament He is full of judgment and in the New Testament He is all mercy.” 

Quite simply, both are God’s character. They are two sides of the same coin. In fact, we more dearly appreciate God’s mercy and grace when we’ve clearly seen how we are subject to His justice and wrath. 

Amos talked about both of these attributes, too, but he does so in a masterful way in which mercy and justice swirl around each other. It’s almost as if Amos can’t talk about justice without mentioning mercy or vice versa. 

How do we know God’s judgment is coming? Because God said so! Amos quotes God saying judgment is coming “because of three sins, even for four” (see these verses in Amos’ first and second chapters). Even as Amos uses that phrase he is pointing to God’s mercy. He’s stating, “God could have punished you the very first time you sinned, but He is giving you another chance, and another chance, and another chance….” 

But make no mistake: a day of judgment is coming. God concludes, “Now then I will crush you” (2:13). 

God tries to get people’s attention by sending famines and plagues and disasters, but after each one of these God sadly notes “yet you have not returned to Me”—five times He says this in Amos 4!

But even as God calls them out on their lack of repentance He reminds them twice of the solution—“Seek Me and live” (5:4-6). 

Finally, Amos concludes his book by letting us know God’s judgment IS coming, but so is God’s mercy (9:1-4, 11-15)!  

Dear Christians, our responsibility is to let people know that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. We must boldly and lovingly tell people of…

  • … God’s justice AND His mercy 
  • … God’s wrath AND His grace 
  • … Heaven for the repentant AND Hell for the unrepentant 

God loves people AND He hates the sin that keeps people from Him. It’s a message people need to hear, although they may not like to hear it. Like Amos, can God use you to warn this world of His judgment AND to woo this world by His love? Our world needs to hear BOTH-AND. They need to hear the whole story. 

Join me next week as we continue our journey of learning the major lessons that the minor prophets teach us. 

Poetry Saturday—Taladh Chriosda

The Lord my shepherd is and I 
shall not want. He makes me lie 
in green pastures, leads me by 
refreshing waters, still.

Restore my soul, Lord, day by day.
Lead me in Your righteous way 
for Your Name’s sake, Lord, I pray 
according to Your will.

And though through death’s dark vail I go,
I no fear of evil show, 
for Your rod and staff, I know, 
shall guard and comfort still.

A table You before me spread 
in the midst of those I dread, 
and with oil anoint my head.
My cup You overfill.

Thus goodness e’er shall follow me, 
mercy all my path shall see,
Your house shall my dwelling be 
forever after still. —T.M. Moore, in Bricks And Rungs

Poetry Saturday—A Good Confession

It seemed as if nothing less likely could be
Than that light should break in on a dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all that dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow was wrung;
’Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell as fast from my soul as the words from my tongue. —Frederick William Faber

Toot! Toot!

Do we begin again to commend ourselves?… (2 Corinthians 3:1)

Paul didn’t bring letters of reference to Corinth, nor did he ask the Corinthians to write any testimonials on his behalf.

A mark of a godly leader is one who doesn’t feel the need to toot his own horn.

 Paul’s focus was not on what he could get now, but on what would be his in eternity—

  • any “letters of recommendation” would be written on peoples hearts (v. 3)
  • any skills he had came through Jesus (vv. 4-6)
  • he had hope that God was keeping accurate records (vv. 7-11)
  • he had the freedom to speak boldly in love because he wasn’t trying to win man’s approval (vv. 12-13, 18)
  • he saw transformed lives as his real trophy (v. 18)
  • his ministry was through God’s mercy so he remained humbled and encouraged (4:1)
  • he didn’t feel the need to concoct a “marketing plan” nor leverage his pulpit for personal gain (v. 2)
  • he focused on glorifying God alone (vv. 3, 4, 6)
  • his sermons weren’t me-focused, but always others-focused as he became a bondservant to those to whom he ministered (v. 5)
  • he worked only for eternal rewards (vv. 7-12, 16-18)
  • he spoke only what he had already appropriated and faithfully applied to his own life (vv. 13-15)

Our prayer could be very similar to what Paul taught and probably prayed for himself—“May I lead by serving. May I not look for human praise—nor even be tempted to toot my own horn—but lead and minister only to hear applause from the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.” 

As R.T. Kendall reminds us—

“Every day we breathe in and out—in and out—thousands of times a day. There is a day fixed, that unless Jesus comes first, you and I will only breathe out. No amount of money, power, or prestige can alter the date that we each have with death. And at that moment the only thing that will matter is whether we have known Christ and served Him well—that our lives have made a difference. In short: that we are popular in heaven—and famous in hell.”

This is part 37 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Poetry Saturday—A Debtor To Mercy Alone

A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing,
Nor fear, with God’s righteousness on,
My person and off’rings to bring.
The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgression from view. 

The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Not all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever my soul from His love. 

My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Imprest on His heart, it remains
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes! I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
When all earthly ties have been riv’n. —Augustus Toplady

Forever Love

“His love endures forever” (NIV)
“His lovingkindness is everlasting” (NASB)
“His love never quits” (MSG)
“His faithful love endures forever” (NLT)
“His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever” (AMP)
“His loyalty continues forever” (EXP)
“His loyal love endures forever” (LEX)
“His loving-kindness continues forever” (TLB)
“His tender love for us continues on forever” (TPT)

The psalmist says this in every single verse of Psalm 136.

Get the point? Just in case you missed it—

You cannot outrun, use up, wear out, or lose God’s forever love!

9 Quotes From “God’s Promises”

God’s Promises by Jack Countryman is a wonderful resource to help you use the Bible to enhance your prayer life and build your faith. Check out my full review of this fantastic book by clicking here.

“Each day we can look forward to God’s Spirit going before, clearing the way, leading the path, and giving us the guidance we need. … But God doesn’t stop at mere survival. He doesn’t just satisfy and strengthen. Though there will be difficulties and times of drought in our lives, God guides us to His living waters. He enables us to flourish ‘like a watered garden,’ where His blessings always bloom.” [Isaiah 58:11] 

“When life darkens our door with its troubles and trials, satan wants nothing more than for us to feel forsaken and alone—but we are not! God stands by our side; He guides, counsels, and comforts. Rest assured, no matter what you face in the coming year, nothing can separate you from the love of your Father (Romans 8:38-39). Therefore walk boldly into each new day, knowing that you follow the footsteps of the One who never leaves you.” [Deuteronomy 31:8] 

“Troubles are never pleasant at the time, but they quickly turn into tools when entrusted to God. Our Lord will take our times of troubles and trials—even the hard feelings we experience in them—then use them to teach us to fully rely on Him and His provision.” [Psalm 138:7] 

“Our God is a loving God, but He isn’t Santa Claus or a genie in a bottle. Our God loves to give good gifts, but in His economy the best gifts are not tangible or material. Yes, our God feels compassion when we hurt, but He still allows hardships into our lives that will refine our character and strengthen our faith. Against the backdrop of these truths, we can better understand the often-misread statement that God will give us the desires of our hearts. The real promise of this verse is that, as we pray, read His Word, and grow closer to the Lord, He will change our hearts so that what we desire for ourselves is what He desires for us.” [Psalm 37:4] 

“Mercy. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t done—can’t possibly do—anything to earn it. And yet we are promised that this unbelievably lavish gift is ours when we choose to follow Jesus. Why? Why would such a perfect and powerful God gives such a gift to ones so undeserving? He tells us in Titus 3:4: because of ‘the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man.’ And He not only gave us mercy, He also ‘poured out on us abundantly’ His own Spirit, to live and work within us, making us more and more like the Savior who died to save us.” [Titus 3:4-6] 

“Our God is not some fickle, capricious, changeable sort of God. He does not search out ways to be angry or displeased with His people. In fact, He so wants to be pleased with us that He gave us the example of His Son to follow.” [Ephesians 5:2] 

“When our burdens and sorrows seem too heavy for us to bear, God offers to carry them for us, inviting us to cast them upon Him (Psalm 55:22). And when the sorrow is so great that we feel we cannot put one foot in front of the other, God gives us this promise: ‘I will carry you; I will sustain you’ (Isaiah 46:4).” 

“Perhaps nothing is as devastating as being betrayed by someone you love and trust. Know that Jesus—betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter—fully understands. He will enable you to recover. The key, as hard as it is, is to pray for that person and ask God to bless him or her. When you pray to God—and you may have to do this again and again—you release the anger and disappointment that come with being betrayed. It is difficult to despise someone you lift up in prayer. And though retaliating is a natural response, it’s not a godly one. Praying is always the best option. Allow the Lord to receive your hurt and to replace it with His peace.” [Psalm 3:4, 6] 

“When we place our faith in Christ, the stormy seas of our lives—churned up by our own sins—are stilled. And while the storms may still rage around us in this sin-plagued world, they do not rage within us. That does not mean our troubles and tribulations are over, but it does mean we can rest in knowing God will see us through them.” [Romans 5:1] 

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