The Severe Mercy

One of the most loving things my husband did for my mother caused her much pain. Some friends had joined us for a steak dinner, and suddenly mother left the table.

Daniel noticed she didn't immediately return, so he followed her into the kitchen. He saw she was turning blue and realized some steak was caught in her throat. He immediately began the Heimlich maneuver as one of the guests dialed 911. Her fragile ribs were injured, but the steak was dislodged. Although she had sore ribs for a few days, she did not complain. What did sore ribs matter? She was alive!

If someone had looked through the window at that moment, they might have thought a lady was being abused. Often we can see only a sketchy view of what God is doing in our lives when we are experiencing what C. S. Lewis called a "severe mercy."

Just as a good physician may injure ribs to prevent choking, God's infinite wisdom sees what is inconsistent with our ultimate happiness, and in His goodness, He removes it.

It is His goodness that removes those things that would encourage us to depend upon something other than Him.

I give thanks to you, Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever.

"For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men" (Lamentations 3:33).

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Don't Forfeit God's Grace

A minister's only child was at the point of death. The doctor informed him and his wife there was no hope their son would live. Their hearts rebelled against God and in their anguish cried out that God was unkind.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded them that God is love and gave them grace to accept whatever God allowed. The father said, "We must willingly give our child to God." So kneeling at the bedside, they humbly gave back to God the child He had loaned them for a short time.

In a fresh way, the fragrance of Christ came into their lives. Every person in their congregation realized a wonderful glory in this fully surrendered couple.

Believing in the goodness of God transforms us in crisis even if we are not delivered. If in His tender compassion, infinite wisdom, and perfect love God sees that it is wise and good for us to suffer loss, we can accept His grace or we can refuse it. If we accept it, we, like Moses, may not know our faces (and our lives) are shining, but others will know and be blessed.

Jonah speaks of those who "forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 3:8). Jesus "carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). He experienced every one of our sorrows so we would not have to bear them. He longs to offer us comfort and grace to overcome our temptations to doubt His goodness.

Jesus, help me to accept the grace You freely offer and then to allow You to carry my sorrows.

"They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over his works" (Psalm 145:7, 8).

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Let God Love You

My friend Dorothy said she had read someone's suggestion, "Let God love you," and she realized that although she frequently tells God she loves Him, she seldom takes time to receive and enjoy His love.

The apostle John must have been very aware of Jesus' love. He referred to himself as the beloved disciple or the disciple "whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23).

The first thing he thought of when he thought of Jesus was, "He loves me!"

Andrew Murray wrote, "The heavenly Father, who offers to meet us in the inner chamber, has no other object than to fill our hearts with His love." When we are alone with the Lord, we should allow Him to fill us with His love.

Even when we're not alone, we can develop habits to remember God loves us. Dr. Jerry Kirk said, "I live in the joy of living in the love of Christ. With every snow flake, I receive the love of Jesus. Every red bird I see reminds me of God's love."

In Ephesians 3:18, Paul prayed that they would "have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

God invites us to be still and know He loves us.

Jesus, please help me to go through this day often saying, "God loves me."

"Abide in His love" (John 15:10 NASB)."But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

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Her Prayers Changed the Town

For years 96-year-old Anna Bebermeyer pleaded with God to close a certain bar in her hometown, Warrenton, Missouri. The devastation it was doing to the people grieved her, so she begged God to remove this influence.

One day the restaurant unexpectedly announced it was closing its bar. What a miracle, but God wasn't finished!

Anna's pastor's wife had put a notice in the newspaper inviting anyone who wanted to learn more about the Bible to come to a Bible class. Soon her living room was too crowded, so she went to the local restaurant and asked if they could meet there.

They agreed and put the group in the very room where liquor had been sold only days before. God, who delights in giving exceedingly abundantly beyond what we ask or think, had given to her good measure, pressed down, and running over.

"I'm so happy, I want to clap my hands," this dear old lady said when her daughter visited her in the nursing home. But she can't clap her hands because of a stroke. About all she can do is lie in bed and pray. In fact, much of her time is spent in prayer.

Could it be that in the inevitable slowing down process of aging, God invites women to a greater life of faith and prayer? Anna, the first older woman mentioned in the New Testament, provides us with a role model. "And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day" (Luke 2:73 KJV). What a fruitful life she must have had!

Dear Lord, thank you for the older women who are living examples of faith and fruit-bearing.

"They shall still bring forth fruit in old age" (Psalm 92:14).

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Our Disagreement

My husband and I had disagreed on an issue, and he had to leave for work before resolving the disagreement. I began devotions confident that I had been right, so I was not anticipating what I recognized as a rebuke to me in Luke 6.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You, hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (vss. 41, 42).

The Lord seemed to say, "Even if you are right, you can't see how to convince him until you remove the beam--your wrong attitude-from your own eye."

I prayed for forgiveness, and God helped me to gain a right spirit. Later, I was amazed to discover a new approach to the situation that seemed right to my husband, too.

This occurred years ago, and I've forgotten our point of disagreement. Through this experience, though, I learned that if I don't let Jesus clear my own attitude, I can't trust God to work in the situation nor can I hear what He wants to say.

Thank You, Lord, for teaching me that when there's peace and harmony between my spirit and Your Spirit, then I can hope to bring harmony in my other relationships.

"But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace" (Psalm 37:11).

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