Tag Archives: Mercy

Just Return; He’s Looking for You!

This afternoon I did a live video on Facebook.

I normally do one, a short “Encouragement Time,” every weekday around 2pm.

The subject of today’s video was that of the prodigal son in Luke 15.


You know, I’m not perfect. Are you? Do you ever do things you’re ashamed of?

Do you ever sin? I do. I know perfectly well what it’s like to wonder whether God even wants to hear you confess and repent. I mean, really, hasn’t He heard it all before?

But the story Jesus tells of the Prodigal is one that displays the wondrous love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of the Father. Yes, the story is really more about Him than the wayward, muddy, starving son.

When the young man reached his lowest point, there in a hog lot, starving and alone, he remembered the goodness of his father.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” – Luke 15:17-19 CSB

Because he had already spent his inheritance (he thought), and since he had treated his own father like he was dead, there was no reason to expect a “Welcome home!” However, he knew his father’s slaves had it better than what he had – which was nothing and no one. He’d have to take his chances.

So, when the broken and filthy young man returns, the reception he receives is more than he could have ever hoped for. Already looking for him, the father spots his son on the horizon and runs to him! No doubt expecting the worst, the son falls on his face and attempts to make the case for indentured servitude. Maybe this would keep his father from killing him outright.

Humble, prostrate in the dirt, not even looking up to see the tears in his father’s eyes, he expects – or rather hopes for – the customary foot upon his neck, the accepted symbol of becoming a slave. But, instead…

…the feeling of a bristly beard upon his ear…

…an arm on his back…

…a rough palm cradling the other side of his head…

…and tear-drenched kisses?? Not the sole of a sandal? KISSES! Yes, kisses on his neck!

More joyful to receive his son back home than determined to reclaim his honor, the exuberant father drowns out the pitiful son’s pleas and cries out, “My son has come home!”

Instead of putting his foot on the boy’s neck, the father had humbled himself and descended to the place where his lowly child lay in the dirt. Instead of justice, He showed mercy.

And then Amazing Grace called out for a party!

God is the Father. You and I are the Prodigal. No matter how far we’ve drifted or run, He is still looking and waiting.

Let’s go home.

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Great Is His Faithfulness, His Mercies, His Love

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

I’m in my office, my study, finishing up my sermon for this coming Sunday, “Thankful for His Holiness,” and I have instrumental music playing in the background. The song that is playing right now is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Folks, because God is holy, all of His other attributes are sure! And because He is faithful, I can know that His mercies endure forever and His compassions, well, they fail not!

If it wasn’t for that, I’m very sure He would have changed His mind about me a long, long time ago.

But He is faithful and ever-loving! He is true to His promises! And every morning I’m awash in His mercies and goodness, whether I recognize it or not!

I don’t deserve to be loved like I am, but He loves me, anyway.

If you don’t know what it’s like to be loved, if every human on earth has left you, then may I just ask you to look to the Cross? “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…” Oh, my friend, you are loved, you’ve just got to accept it.

So often we ask things like, “How could you love me?” You may think that about God. You may wonder, after all you’ve done, how could He love you?

If God was like other people, any other human, He’d probably give up on us, too. But here’s the thing, as He told Hosea (and you should read that story), “I am God, not man.”

God doesn’t simply love, as in what He does; He IS LOVE! It is His very nature! He defines what true love is! And if HE said He loves you, you can count on it. You can depend on it! You can rejoice over it! You can shout about it!

No! You and I don’t deserve it! Who wants a deserved love, anyway? You want a love that’s undeserved, unmerited, and not based on anything you could or can do!

Man, without Jesus I don’t know where I’d be right now, if not dead and in hell. I’ve just got to worship Him.

“I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross, but here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God!” …that’s the music that was playing as I wrote the previous sentence.

Well, I guess I better get back to my study 🙂

As always, if you need to talk, I’m always available. If you would like to call someone who can introduce you to Christ and tell you more about His mercies and His love, call 1-800-NEED HIM.

God bless!
Anthony

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I Will Praise Him! Will You?

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m about to go to church. I’m looking forward to preaching about Jesus.

I’m on this computer, however, just to share this song.

I am literally wiping the tears away from my eyes…the keyboard and screen are blurry.

The following song by Mountain Faith Band is one of my very most favorites…because it is my life…and every REAL Christian should understand its message.

I’m so unworthy, but I’m so thankful for God’s mercy and grace!

 

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Things to Do In 2019: More Mercy, Compassion, and Grace

I Broke the Law

Oh, I know what you’re probably thinking. Being that I am a Christian, a preacher, and “the recovering legalist,” by breaking the law you think I’m referring to something of a spiritual or biblical nature, like eating pork, or smoking a cigar.

No, I literally broke the law! Like as in a statute recorded in a City Hall – the kind for which a police officer can arrest someone.

What did I do?

Well, this morning I drove my daughter Katie to where she is student teaching in Dayton, Tennessee. She directed me off the main highway and through a part of the town where I rarely visited.

As I came to a 4-way intersection, I looked all over for a stop sign, then up for a traffic light, but I saw nothing (which I thought was odd), so I proceeded cautiously, looking to my left, then right.

That’s when I saw the bright red light. I had just run a red light! I’m a professional driver – I don’t do that kind of thing!

And when you’re in a little 2-horse town, that’s NOT a good thing to do, especially when there’s a budget crunch!

So, why didn’t I see the light? It wasn’t where I expected it to be – nowhere close. It was on the other side of the intersection, about 6-ft off the ground. I just didn’t see it until I crossed the intersection and there it was on my right, shining at me through the passenger-side window.

Breaking Our Laws

Thankfully, there was not a police car anywhere close. I can only hope there were no traffic cameras, or else I’m going to have to pay a fine, for I did, in fact, break a law, and ignorance is no excuse.

But how often do people break OUR laws? And by that I mean the kind of regulations and legalistic standards we all have; the kind that lead us to judge others’ spirituality based on how they dress, the tattoos on their face, or what’s in their glass at the restaurant.

Even when our standards of conduct and demeanor are biblically justified, what if the other person just missed the light at the intersection? What if they never read that verse?

When you have the time, I would encourage you to read or re-read the whole chapter of Romans 14.

If the truth be known, much of the time we find ourselves judging others based on OUR laws and regulations, not the ones the Lawgiver has written. So, in reality, who are we to hold them accountable? It’s not our job.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. – Romans 14:4 ESV

This year I want to criticize less, be less judgmental, and show a little more mercy, compassion, and grace.

I know that’s what I would have wanted when I ran that red light.

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Crimson-Colored Mercy

Don’t ask me why He loved me so; I’ll never understand.

He picked me up and held me close with a gentle nail-scarred hand.

He suffered what was meant for me, and after all I put Him through,

“Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

He told His Father I was “worth the nails“!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

With crimson-colored mercy, He washed away my shame.

Worthless and unworthy, a broken life He made brand new.

But before He changed a thing, He loved me anyway!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

 

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

 

 – adapted from “It’s Amazing, but It’s True,” by Anthony C. Baker

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Hope for the Dead

Sometimes we encounter people who give every impression that Hell will be their final abode. With bombastic, hate-filled, vulgar declarations they condemn the idea of a Creator and swim deeper into the sea of their depravity.

However, because of His love and mercy, God draws men and women while they are yet immersed in their sin. Therefore, the hardest, vilest, deadest sinner you know might be the one closest to new life in Christ.

Never assume; just keep praying.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! – Ephesians 2:4-5 CSB

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Got Sin?

The following also appears on my other blog, ProverbialThought.com.


Proverbs 28:13

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

Hidden Sin

Hidden sin is the stuff we hide from view, maybe even from ourselves. Hidden sin is the kind of sin we don’t want others to know about for fear of being embarrassed, judged, or condemned. Hidden sin could even be what we choose to label “character flaws,” “idiosyncrasies,” or simply “bad habits.” They are buried, closeted, covered, disguised, or even renamed in order to keep from admitting what they really are.

Do you sneak away to where no one will see? Do you wait till the kids are asleep? Do you clean up the mess so no one will know? Do you hide records and notes? Do you cover your tracks? Do you say it with a fake smile? Do you daydream about what you would do if you could get away with it?

Keep on, keep covering and you will never find relief; you will never find peace; you will never lose the weight of guilt; you will never, ever prosper.

Look at It!

There were so many times when I was younger that I was injured and didn’t want to look at the wound. One time I was cleaning an automotive valve grinding machine when I briefly touched my left hand to the sharp surfacing stone that was spinning at 5,000 r.p.m. In a micro second flesh was ground away to the bone and blood began to drip forming a puddle by my feet. I grabbed my hand with my other, called for help, then said, “I don’t want to look!”

Had I kept my hand covered, I would have never seen that the injury was not as extensive as I first thought. But had I kept my wound covered, denied it ever happened, and went on about my day, I could have bled to death, or at least lost my hand to a horrible infection. My life could have been changed forever.

Thankfully, I looked at my wound, then began to feel the pain, but then began a long healing process. Quite frankly, the same thing needs to happen with hidden sin. We need to admit the problem, deal with the pain, and allow others and God to bring healing to our lives.

Need Mercy?

Hidden sin is dangerous for many reasons. Hidden sin eats away at one’s soul and callouses the conscience to the warning signs of life-threatening disease. Though hidden, it is contagious and harms others.

Like the hidden ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories, the longer we keep it, the more deadly it becomes – and the more deadly we become. But to he who confesses, admits what he has, turns from it, and asks for help, there awaits mercy.

Got sin? Need mercy? You know what to do.

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Crimson-Colored Mercy

Don’t ask me why He loved me so; I’ll never understand.

He picked me up and held me close with a gentle nail-scarred hand.

He suffered what was meant for me and after all I put Him through,

Told His Father I was “worth the nails“!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

With crimson-colored mercy He washed away my shame.

Worthless and unworthy, a broken life He made brand new.

But before He changed a think, He loved me anyway!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

 

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

 

 – adapted from “It’s Amazing, But It’s True,” by Anthony C. Baker

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The Impossible List

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. – Psalm 40:5

Lists

My wife is a list person. No, seriously, if anything needs to be done, bought, cleaned, learned, or debated, she can whip out a list quicker than gunslinger’s six-shooter – and with more shots.

However, one of our daughters (Katie) has not only learned from her mother, but has taken the whole list-taking thing to the extreme. How do I know this? Because if anything needs to be done, bought, cleaned, learned, or debated, any time frame in which those things need to be done must be extended in order for her to complete the list, print the list, decorate the list, and share the list with anyone who will listen.

I would say that I hate lists, but I don’t. The difference between my wife and daughter and me is that I don’t love lists; I just prepare them when I absolutely have to, such as: 1) when I am preparing a sermon; 2) when I am forced to order for the family at a drive-thru window; 3) when I have an important argument to win; or 4) when this blog calls for it.

The last thing I would want to do is list all the wonderful works and thoughts of God toward me. I couldn’t be done.

Impossible

Stop and think about it, could you make a list of all the things God has done for you? Could you list them in order of occurrence? David couldn’t. I know I can’t.

If I were to compile a list of God’s wonderful works, how could I list His thoughts? Even if I were to list the works of which I knew, how would I list the works I never knew about? He has done more for me than I will ever know!

Even if I were to sit down with pen or pencil in hand, like David, how could I list all God has done in order? It wouldn’t take long to wear out an eraser. As soon as a couple of items could be put down, something else would come to mind…erase…change the order…remember…erase…

O LORD, my God, your works and your thoughts toward me are beyond comprehension! Before I was born…while I sleep…even with eyes wide open…your wonderful works and thoughts toward me are impossible to list!

If only my praises were so numerable.

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Powerful Mercy

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” – Proverbs 11:17

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

I pray that those who are protesting and rioting would keep this in mind.

– from Proverbial Thought

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