now you have received mercy

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

How great it is to receive mercy.

The overwhelming relief. The love and gratitude we then feel in return.

How can we possibly repay our maker? What can we do in return for our redeemer?

Whatever it might be it can never be enough. The debt is too great.

Yet we’re told all our debts to God are forgiven. We are absolved of the need to repay Him.

Leaving us free to serve Him as we ought. With a clear conscience.

As one who is ‘chosen’. One of His ‘people’. Part of His ‘royal priesthood’.

Made ‘holy’ in His sight. And thus set apart for His good purposes.

In part, to show grace and mercy to others.

And what better way than by sharing our faith through ‘proclaiming’ His ‘excellencies’.

Kim+

prayer : may I fully appreciate the gift of ‘light’ and my rescue from ‘darkness’

action : help me to ‘proclaim’ boldly and faithfully

a fool despises his father’s instruction

Proverbs 15:5 (ESV)

5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

We’re so quick to give instruction but often slow to heed the counsel of others.

Kim+

the tongue of the wise commends knowledge

Proverbs 15:2 (ESV)

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

There’s a common theme throughout the Book of Proverbs between ‘wisdom‘ & ‘foolishness’.

And often it’s associated with what we say.

James 3 has a long discourse on the tongue and the trouble it can get us into.

Yet it can also be used to ‘bless’ (v.9).

And, although the context of that verse is using it to ‘bless our Lord and Father’ (v.9), a great way to bless others is to share our knowledge of Him with them: the gospel.

It’s a simple thing but one we are easily tempted to avoid for fear of embarrassment and rejection.

But that would be unwise.

Kim+

prayer : help me to be wise not ‘foolish’

action : look for opportunities to commend knowledge by ‘boldly’ proclaiming’ the gospel (Ephesians 6:19)

a soft answer turns away wrath

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

There’s a beautiful contrast here between the soft answer on the one hand and the “harsh word” on the other.

At a very human level we’re often quick to jump to conclusions. Assuming another’s guilt and letting fly with “harsh words” and threats of retribution.

What we need to do is stop. Think. And before we speak take the time to consider all the angles. Weigh up all the arguments. Even put ourselves in their shoes.

Especially since people are generally prone to defensiveness when confronted and accused.

And remember that we too are just as imperfect (John 7:53-8:11).

After all. We are all condemned and thus we all deserve God’s “wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

Yet, thankfully, Jesus “delivers [believers] from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Kim+

prayer : thank God that I’m not “destined for wrath” but have “obtained salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

action : practice answering softly

his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance

Isaiah 52:14-15 (ESV)

14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

This prophecy flies in the face of what the Israelites no doubt expected of a Messiah.

For Him to be brutally treated, marred, beyond human semblance, is painful to read.

How could mankind murder the Prince of Life?

Whip Him, and beat Him, and bash Him to a pulp. So much so that He was unrecognisable as a human being.

At the time of its release I thought The Passion of The Christ, the movie directed by Mel Gibson, was incredibly graphic and harsh. That the treatment of Christ depicted in the film was possibly exaggerated and certainly overemphasised.

But upon reflection, after reading this passage, perhaps it was too tame.

When we deceive ourselves that we’re not as bad as the next guy. That we’re, generally speaking, a pretty kind-hearted person. Someone who doesn’t do too much bad. Certainly less bad than good. Then perhaps we need to consider the blood on our hands from this cold-blooded killing?

We are all guilty of the death of Christ.

To think otherwise is to ignore our corporate responsibility as human beings.

Fortunately, His blood will “sprinkle many nations”. That is, His sacrificial death will bring blessing to the whole world, not just the Jews.

What appears to be a man-made calamity is actually a God-ordained “victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54f).

The truth of the gospel, this new revelation, is that Christ Jesus is not just the “King of kings” (Revelation 17:14) but that He was crucified on a cross, rose again from the grave and then ascended into heaven to sit at God’s right-hand.

And that those who believe will share in His resurrection.

Yes, this is hard to “understand” and was once a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51). But now these “kings” of the earth will be enlightened.

And not just them but “all people” (John 12:32).

Kim+

prayer : thank you God for revealing your “mystery” to me (Romans 16:25ff)

action : help me to be an instrument revealing your “mystery” to others (Ephesians 3:9)

he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted

Isaiah 52:13 (ESV)

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.

Not surprisingly, this verse reminds me of a great song called High & Lifted Up performed Live by St Paul’s Castle Hill in Sydney, Australia.

But I digress so back to the verse at hand.

I have this image first of Christ as He is nailed to a cross and then lifted up for all to see. To be mocked by the scoffers there on the hill of Calvary.

As insults are hurled at Him and scorn heaped upon Him, our Lord and Saviour appears anything but sovereign and majestic.

But irony of ironies, God lifted Him up in a way that no mere mortal could do.

For “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior” (Acts 5:31).

Kim+

prayer : thank you Jesus Christ for suffering on the cross in my place

action : you Lord are my King and your name shall be lifted up

how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news

Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

4 How beautiful on the mountains
 are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
 who bring good tidings,
 who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
 “Your God reigns!”

Indeed. It’s great to hear good news.

The announcement of a wedding. The birth of a child. The safe return of a loved one.

But imagine the news is “proclaiming peace”.

The “tidings” are that there is “salvation”.

The Israelites had suffered greatly and this would have been very welcome news. But I wonder if they understood the significance of what was about to be explained to them.

That the “salvation” was not just their imminent rescue but an ultimate restoration between God and man.

And that the precursor to God’s arrival in human form on earth was John the Baptist preaching this good news (John1:15ff).

If one’s message is that “God reigns” in the person of “Christ the Lord” then yes, it really is “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Kim+

prayer : help me to be bold in sharing this good news

action : “tell of his salvation from day to day” (1 Chronicles 16:23)

when Israel was a child, I loved him

Hosea 11:1-2 (ESV)

1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

2 The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

God’s love for His people knows no bounds.

We see this in the Bible’s story which is a continual cycle of blessing (from God), rejection (by His people, displayed through their persistent sin), acknowledgement of their sinfulness and thus their eventual repentance (by His people), and finally blessing again (from God) through forgiveness and redemption, salvation and rescue.

It pains God to see His creation, especially His children, turning their back on Him.

What parent wouldn’t hurt?

But God’s love is a never ending love.

He is always willing to forgive.

Always willing to reach out and draw His child back into His arms just like the father in the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11ff).

Kim+

prayer : thank you for your tender love for me despite my rejection of you

action : learn to love my children just as fiercely