Being known

A few weeks ago, I had a moment with my husband where, for a moment, I knew what he was thinking. It happens when people know each other very well, and if you’ve spent a lot of time together. You start to recognize situations, or you remember a previous conversation or circumstance, and sometimes, you just know what the other person is thinking as a situation occurs.

In a second, God drew my attention to Himself.

There are a few passages in the Bible when Jesus answered the scribes and Pharisees’ thoughts without them having to say a word. I’ll highlight a few for you:

“But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’ ” – Matthew 9:4 (ESV)

“When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts?’ ” – Luke 5:22 (ESV)

I had always thought that Jesus knew their thoughts because He is God, simply because He is all-knowing and He knew all their darkness and evil motives. But, in that moment, I realized something incredibly beautiful.

Jesus knew their thoughts because these individual persons were indescribably loved by Him. He knew these people as individuals, loving their personality traits and quirks and knowing their concerns. In spite of their attitude towards Him, Jesus had an immensely deep love for these persons, just as He loves every human He ever created (again, in spite of what they do / don’t do).

He knew their thoughts, because He knew them.

Suddenly, I don’t read these passages of Scripture with a smug attitude, as if Jesus answered their thoughts out of pride or to show Himself off to them*. Instead, I read these with a sense of Jesus’ deep compassion and love, and I imagine Him with care asking them these questions so that they can realize how unreasonable they were being. (Refer to the passages in context at the bottom of this post.) He was helping them out of love, guiding them to a better understanding of what God’s Law was really about.

I thank God for the compassionate love He has for each of us. I am grateful that Jesus knows and loves me and all about me, in spite of my flaws and failures, and that He will take the time to address my thoughts so that I can realize my need for (more of) Him.

May you also realize His immeasurable love for you today. May you meditate on the fact that God loves you as you are, He delights in you because of who He made you to be, graciously forgiving your mistakes, knowing all about you more intimately than anyone ever can.

Praise be to God!

* Notice how, in both passages below, Jesus was not drawing attention to Himself, but God was glorified through His miracles. Although Jesus is part of the God-head, it was not clear to the scribes and Pharisees at this point in time (perhaps some realized it later).

I’d love to hear if you find some more passages where Jesus knew their thoughts!

© blessedbeyondmeasure3.wordpress.com

Matthew 9
1  And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city.  2  And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”  3  And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This man blasphemeth.’  4  And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  5  For whether is easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”; or to say, “Arise, and walk?”  6  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”  7  And he arose, and departed to his house.  8  But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

Luke 5
17  And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.  18  And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him.  19  And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.  20  And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”  21  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”  22  But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, “What reason ye in your hearts?  23  Whether is easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”; or to say, “Rise up and walk?”  24  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins,” (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”  25  And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  26  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things to day.”

Luke 7
36  And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.  37  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,  38  And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.  39  Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, ‘This man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner.’  40  And Jesus answering said unto him, “Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.” And he saith, “Master, say on.”  41  “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  42  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”  43  Simon answered and said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” And He said unto him, “Thou hast rightly judged.”  44  And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, “Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet:  but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.  45  Thou gavest Me no kiss:  but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss My feet.  46  My head with oil thou didst not anoint:  but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment.  47  Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven;  for she loved much:  but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  48  And He said unto her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”  49  And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, ‘Who is this that forgiveth sins also?‘  50  And He said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

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Why we never need to worry 

The past couple of months, I’ve learned an amazing truth.  I hope this will mean something to someone else, too! 

I loved my grandmother.  I sent her letters the old-fashioned way, visited her in the old age home during holidays, spent hours paging through her photo albums with her, and eventually many more hours making her a special light-weight album with old and recent pictures of her offspring, when the old albums became too heavy for her to lift.  I loved my grandmother dearly.  I used to start crying just at the thought that she might one day die… although I knew that she was already deep in her 80’s and that we had to treasure every moment together.  I prayed many prayers that she would live to see my children, and took lots of photos when we were together.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her, and my heart broke at the thought of ever having to say goodbye. 

One Saturday morning in July this year, I had the phone call I dread so much.  She had gone to be with her Saviour in the most gentle way imaginable.  She had still been relatively healthy, and this was completely unexpected.  She had phoned just 2 days before, to congratulate my husband’s completed university degree. 

I cried a lot.  Especially when I phoned my mom later that morning.  But I experienced an amazing truth during that time, and still every time I miss her:  God’s grace is new every morning, every day, in every MOMENT…  and THAT is the reason we get through difficult times, looking back and wondering how we could ever cope. 

In Jesus’s famous Sermon in the Mount (Matthew 6:34, KJV), He said the following:

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Compare that to Lamentations 3:22-23, which says, 

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”

The reason we can cope with life’s most difficult challenges, is because God gives us, every day, enough mercy, grace and compassion for the day.  He KNOWS what lies ahead for us, He KNOWS what we need…  It says so in the few verses preceding Jesus’s words quoted above:

30 “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”  (Matthew 6) 

One of the greatest challenges I can imagine is coping after your house burned down in a fire.  I’ve often prayed that such a thing will never happen to me or my loved ones.  Yet, I know that when such a terrible thing happens, people find strength to cope, somehow…  I now understand why – because God’s grace is there with them in that moment, an unseen Hand carrying them through the difficult time.  Oh, imagine if we could SEE our loving Father and Saviour’s protection, strength and Presence with us!! 

I am so grateful that God gives more than ENOUGH mercy, grace, strength and compassionate love for what we need every moment.  

This is why we never need to be worried:  God WILL be there in that moment you’re scared of, dreading, or worried about, with ENOUGH of what you need to carry you through.  I hope this will encourage you today!! 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10, KJV

8 “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

© blessedbeyondmeasure3.wordpress.com 

No good thing (Part 2)

Lately, it has been difficult for me to spend time in God’s Word, but yet every time I did, I found that God WANTS to encourage me during this uncertain time in my life.  He is so faithful to give me hope when I read His Word, I have felt that (at this phase in my life) it really doesn’t matter where I read – just as long as I do.  He will give me something to hold on to even though I don’t have a Bible Reading Plan at this moment.  (I think a good place to start if you also don’t know what to read, is the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – see what love and compassion Jesus has for people with troubles!)

A few months ago, I posted a meditation about Psalm 84:11.  I am still on that same topic, still holding on to the promise in that verse, that God will withhold NO GOOD THING from those who walk uprightly.  I keep reminding myself that this is true, especially when I feel hopeless in my current situation.  (The enemy works really hard to convince me that God has forgotten about me, and that He does not care about my pain – and so I have to “fight” with the Sword of God’s Word, reminding myself of the Truth that I believe.  See Eph. 6:17.)

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield:  the LORD will give grace and glory:  no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” ~ Psalm 84:11

I have found that, many times, God says the same thing over and over in His Word, and He has really used this repetition of His promises to encourage me when I start questioning whether this verse above is true for me.

“Ask, and it shall be given you;  seek, and ye shall find;  knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  for every one that asketh receiveth;  and he that seeketh findeth;  and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” ~ Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:7-11

The Bible is full of stories of people who expectantly waited for the fulfillment of a promise from God.  Just think of Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 15:46), Joseph (Gen. 37:9), the whole of Israel as slaves in Egypt (Gen. 15:13-16, Ex. 3:7), King David (1 Sam. 16:13, 2 Sam. 5:4-5), and then Israel waited again on the promised Saviour (Is. 53:11), to name just a few examples.  I, for one, can definitely relate to this waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Yet, as Joshua testified after Israel had been taken to Canaan’s land after experiencing MANY miracles, I believe that I will also one day look back, and confess that “not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning youall are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.” ~ Joshua 23:14

I hope that this will encourage you today, as it encouraged me.  There are many more verses that speak about the GOOD THINGS that God has planned for us, and I can recommend that you will use a Bible App (e-Sword, YouVersion, etc.) to search out His promises and to be encouraged by it.  God is so faithful and (very much) able to perform what He plans for each of us.

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.” ~ Isaiah 64:4

“But as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” ~ Ephesians 3:20

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected [hopeful] end.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

God bless each of you.

© blessedbeyondmeasure3.wordpress.com

Remember Who you belong to!

When you feel like you can’t handle the task and you ask yourself:  “Who’s your Daddy?” You can feel secure – not because of you, but because of Who you belong to.  Remember Who He is, and that you belong to Him:

He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End.  (Revelation 22:13)  He’s the keeper of creation and the Creator of all.  (Genesis 1:1, John 1:3, 2 Peter 3:7)  He’s the architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.  (Psalms 8:3, 147:4)  He always was, always is, always will be (Hebrews 13:8) – unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone.  He was bruised, but brought healing.  He was pierced, but eases pain.  He was persecuted, but brought freedom.  He was dead and brings life.  He has risen to bring power and He reigns to bring peace.  (Isaiah 53:3-5, 61:1-3)

The world can’t understand Him.  Armies can’t defeat Him.  Schools can’t explain Him.  And leaders… they can’t ignore Him.  Herod couldn’t kill Him;  Nero couldn’t crush Him;  the New Age cannot replace Him, and Oprah cannot explain Him away.

Remind yourself that He is Light; (John 8:12) He is Love; (1 John 4:8) He is longevity and He is the LORD!  (Philippians 2:11)  He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness, and He is God!  (Exodus 34:6) He is holy and righteous, powerful and pure.  (Psalm 145:17, 29:4)  His ways are right, His Word eternal, His Will unchanging, and His Mind is on us!  (Deuteronomy 32:4, John 6:68, Malachi 3:6, Psalm 115:12)  He’s our Saviour, our Guide, our Peace, our Joy, our Comfort, our LORD, and He rules our lives.  (Matthew 18:11, Luke 2:11, Psalm 48:14, Isaiah 9:6, John 15:11, John 14:16, Psalm 103:19)

I serve Him because His bond is love, His yoke is easy, His burden is light, and His goal for us is abundant life.  (Colossians 3:14, Matthew 11:30, John 10:10)  I follow Him because He’s the Wisdom of the wise, the Power of the powerful, the Ancient of Days, the Ruler of rulers, the Leader of all leaders!  (Proverbs 8:12-35, Revelation 7:12, Daniel 7:9, 7:22, John 19:11, Romans 13:1)

His goal is a relationship with me…  (John 3:16, Revelation 3:20, John 15:14)

He’ll never leave you, never forsake you, never mislead you, never forget you, never overlook you, and never cancel your appointment in His appointment Book.  Never!  (Hebrews 13:5, Isaiah 49:16, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 1:6)

When you fall, He’ll lift you up.  When you fail, He’ll forgive you.  When you’re weak, He’s strong.  When you’re lost, He’s your way.  When you’re afraid, He’s your courage.  When you stumble, He will steady you.  When you’re hurt, He’s gonna heal you.  When you’re broken, He will mend you.  When you’re blind, He will lead you.  When you’re hungry, He will feed you.  When you face trials, He is with you!  (Psalm 147:6, Psalm 103:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, John 14:6, Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 3:23, Malachi 4:2, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 23:3, Isaiah 42:16, John 6:51, John 4:10, Matthew 28:20)

When I face persecution, He shields me.  When I face problems, He will comfort me.  When I face loss, He will provide for me.  And when we face death, He will carry us all Home to meet Him!  (Psalm 33:20, Psalm 23:4, Philippians 4:19, Isaiah 40:11, 46:4)

He is everything, for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way!  (Ephesians 1:21-23)

He is your God, and THAT is Who you belong to!

~Taken from sermon by Priscilla Shirer ~

Kindness & compassionate love

~ Ian Maclaren ~

~ Ian Maclaren ~

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”  Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?”  And he (the certain lawyer) said, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”  Luke 10:30-37

“A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” And he divided unto them his living.  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.  And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.  And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  And the son said unto him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son…”  But the father said to his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” ”   Parable told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-24

Consider the compassionate kindness of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ:

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  … according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;  Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour…” Titus 3:3-6

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”  Joel 2:12-13

“And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”  And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, “I will; be thou clean.” ”  Mark 1:40-41

See also Isaiah 54:8, Jeremiah 31:3, Jeremiah 32:18, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 15:32, Matthew 20:34, Psalm 143:8.

How do we compare to Jesus’ compassionate kindness?  Most often, somebody first has to get hurt (sometimes not even by ourselves), tears has to flow, sickness must come, before we start showing compassion toward others.  Even though it is good to be compassionate and kind toward the sick, those with heartache, and those going through difficulties, it is a fact that we do not always see other people’s battles.  Some battles are fought privately in one’s heart or mind, and it is obvious that we have no idea what battles strangers fight.  How kind are we toward the cashier at the supermarket (or the person packing our goods in plastic bags)?  Or toward the administrator at the bank when we’ve stood in a long queue?  Or with the car guard, the person who sells newspapers on the corner, or even the girl who sells her body for an income…?   (Luke 7:37-50)  Jesus showed compassion toward everybody, and so should we.  Had we known their battles, surely we would have more compassion, kindness, and maybe even a sincere smile for them.

What if we’ve been hurt?  Often in the Word of God “kindness” (or “lovingkindness”) goes hand-in-hand with forgiveness.  Jesus set the perfect example:  “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him…  Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” ”  (Luke 23:33-34)  Peter also encouraged the believers to “be… kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)  See also Colossians 3:12-15, 2 Peter 1:5-7.

May Jesus Christ make us more into His Nature (John 3:30), that we can be “having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”  (1 Peter 3:8).  May we “be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another,” (Romans 12:10) to bring God all the glory.