God of Mercy and Blessing

In Your Bible: Psalm 67:1

You probably have heard the first verse of Psalm 67 as a doxology at the end of a church service. The entire Psalm is uplifting for the believer. Some Bible commentators* say this prophecy tells what God plans to do for all nations through Jesus Christ. To him be glory, majesty, and dominion forever.

Merciful God

God be merciful to us and bless us (Psalm 67:1a NKJV).

The first link in the chain of mercies that believers receive is forgiveness of sin. Therefore, it’s the foundational attribute in salvation. The plea, addressed to the God of mercy, implies the death of all legal hopes or claims of merit. Yes, salvation is the best gift from our eternal God. Selah.

It would be difficult to ascribe this psalm to anyone except David, who makes his plea for believers (“us” instead of me). Because it is prophetic,
it is a prayer for Israel and spiritually a prayer for the Christian church.

Face to Shine on Us

And cause His face to shine upon us, Selah (Psalm 67:1b NKJV).

As God grants us his presence, we embrace and discover his love, come into communion with him through Jesus Christ, and grow in grace with him. He will cause his face to shine upon us. To him be glory, majesty, and dominion forever.

Prayer: Father, what a wonder you are. You are a blaze of glory. I long to see you face to face.

* Commentaries from Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, and John Gill, Psalm 67:1, christianity.com.

Jesus Did Another Odd Thing

He looked upon them, fully aware of their condition. “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Eyewitness Luke 17:14).

Eyewitness: p. 175
In Your Bible: Leviticus 13:2; Luke 17:11-19

We pray asking God for help. We may not see immediate results, but we know he will answer in the best way. Knowing this we might thank him as we ask. It’s in his timing to show results. It’s in our timing to show thanksgiving and praise.

This account of the ten leprous men, is found only in Luke. Ten leprous men received mercy/healing. But what else did Jesus want?

A Request of Jesus

Jesus traveled between Samaria and Galilee on his way back from Jerusalem. As he came to a town, ten leprous men came to him. They weren’t allowed to come too close to people and according to Jewish Law they must warn everyone by shouting “Unclean. Unclean.” The men cried out to Jesus for what they wanted. “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon us” (Eyewitness Luke 17:13). This sincere plea came from the heart of each man. Jesus, fully aware of their condition, had compassion for them. Oddly, what Jesus did was to show his mercy and remind them what the Law required.

Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Eyewitness Luke 17:14). As they went away, the lepers received their healing.

However, only one came back to Jesus. He saw he had been healed and said with a loud voice, “Praise God! He fell at Jesus feet and thanked him” (Eyewitness Luke 17:16).

God’s Mercy Is Healing

“Didn’t I heal ten men?” Jesus asked. “Where are the other nine? Except for this foreigner, no one has returned to give glory to God. Stand up now and go. Your faith has made you well” (Eyewitness Luke 17:17-19).

Naturally, Jesus wanted to see all of these who were healed. He wanted them to know the they were clean because they had faith in him. Jesus’ desire is for mankind to know God is merciful, loving, and caring. Oddly, the only one who returned was a Samaritan!

Application: Simple words from Jesus are not merely simple words. He knew the key required for this healing was their faith in him. The leprous men received all they asked of Jesus. Yet only one returned and praised the source. Believers must remember to thank Jesus.

Prayer: Father, help me realize all that you do for me. I thank you for eyes and ears to see and hear you. You bless me in so many ways. I don’t ever want to forget to be thankful.

Question: Why do you think the nine lepers did not return to give thanks? Why do we miss what God is doing? Is our focus too much on ourselves?

THE POWER OF JESUS’ COMMANDS

Jesus said, “Go home to your people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, how you received mercy” (Eyewitness Mark 5:19).

Eyewitness: PP. 89-91
In Your Bible: Matthew 8:23-34; Mark 4:35-5:20; Luke 8:22-39

The disciples and Jesus had just sailed across the lake (where Jesus rebuked the storm with 3 words – “Peace be still” [Eyewitness Mark 4:9]). They landed their boat at Gardarenes, near Galilee. Immediately two men possessed with evil spirits, ran up to Jesus as he climbed out of the boat.

One of these two possessed men was homeless, naked, and lived in the graveyard away from everyone in the nearby town. Chains could not restrain this violent man who cut himself with stones and cried out in torment. When he came to Jesus he knelt and worshipped him. Jesus commanded the many evil spirits to leave this man.

A discussion arose between the evil spirits in this man and Jesus. There were so many in this man that they called themselves “Legion.” They begged Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. They desired to remain in some kind of body form and asked to inhabit the herd of pigs. Jesus allowed it with a simple word “Go.”

The evil spirits entered the pigs, who quickly ran into the sea and drowned. Those tending the pigs, saw what happened and hurried to tell the townspeople. They too saw the tormented man sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, calm and in his right mind. Overcome with fear, the crowd begged Jesus to leave.

The man delivered from these many evil spirits appealed to Jesus to let him go with him. Instead, Jesus gave the man a task in his town – spread the good news. “No,” Jesus said, “Go home to your people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, how you have received mercy” (Eyewitness Mark 5:19).

TELLING OF JESUS’ MERCY

The man obeyed Jesus and gave his testimony in Decapolis (the ten cities nearby) telling what Jesus had done for him. He had heard the evil spirits proclaim that Jesus was the Son of the most High God. He knew he’d received not only healing but also mercy. What an eyewitness to the Master this man became! He was one of the first to proclaim Jesus’ mercy.

Application: Even evil spirits knew Jesus to be the Son of God and obeyed the Master. The man delivered couldn’t wait to spread the good news of what Jesus did for him. What has Jesus done for you? Are you spreading the Good News?

Prayer: Father, you have the power to overcome evil and to change lives. Your words are the strength we live by.

Jesus Rebukes the Pharisees

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law are telling you what Moses says you should do. You may do what they teach, but do not copy what they do, because they do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23:2,3 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: pp. 149,150, 203-205
In Your Bible: Luke 11:37-54; Matthew 23:1-34

Pharisee

Pharisee


When you read a Pharisee invited Jesus to his home, you might wonder, “What were they thinking?” Perhaps they wanted to learn from him privately? Why is this account in the Bible? Could this be a Pharisee who became a believer? All these questions are valid. I think this passage is also there for believers to learn and be wise about legalism.

When Jesus and a Pharisees sat down to eat, the host noticed Jesus did not first ceremonially wash** his hands, as required by the Law. Jesus, who knew his thinking, then addressed many errors the religious leaders did that misled the people. Yes, it incensed these religious leaders.

Jesus Illuminates Errors of the Pharisees

* They emphasized ceremonial washing – But didn’t understand God makes you clean
* They burdened the people with the Law – But did not keep the Law themselves
* They had specific directions on giving – But neglected justice, mercy, and God’s love
* They were proud and vain – But forgot humility pleases God
* They hid the key to knowing God – Because only they interpreted the Scriptures
* They were hypocrites (honored OT prophets) – But ignored NT prophets (John the Baptist)

For centuries the Jews struggled with strictly following the Law. What a difficult path to trod, following leaders who could not adhere to the Law, yet insisting others do so. The Bible shows that no man can follow the letter of the Law except Jesus – God incarnate.

Keep it Simple

Man makes complicated rules. God’s rules are simple. Jesus said, If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love……This is my commandment: Love others as I have loved you (Eyewitness John 15:10,12).

The prophet Micah said it right, But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously–take God seriously (Micah 6:8 The Message).

Application: We might see ourselves in the mirror of Jesus’ critique of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law. Beware of religious legalism that leads us away from the simplicity that God wants for the believer.

Prayer: Father, thank you for freeing us from the Law and man-made direction on how to fulfill it……..Jesus is the answer.

** A word from Bible commentator William Barclay on ceremonial washings the Law requires. “The Law laid it down that before a man ate he must wash his hands in a certain way, and that he must wash between courses. As usual every littlest detail was worked out. Large stone vessels of water were specially kept for the purpose because ordinary water might be unclean; the amount of water used must be at least a quarter of a log, that is enough to fill one and a half egg-shells. First the water must be poured over the hands beginning with the tips of the fingers and running up to the wrist. Then the palm of each hand must be cleansed by rubbing the fist of the other into it. Finally, water must again be poured over the hand, this time beginning at the wrist and running down to the finger tips. To the Pharisee to omit the slightest detail of this was a sin.” From: The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of Luke, Westminster Press, Philadelphia. 1953, 1956, p. 158.

Photo of Pharisee – from Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1979, The Genesis Project.