Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Quality of Mercy

Sometimes blessings come in unusual ways and at unusual times. I received one of those today while grading my daughter's poem she'd learned. I was touched by the beauty of the poem "Silver" by Walter de la Mare which I was grading (she got a 100 on it), but even more so when I read the poem she's currently working on. It's another Shakespeare writing--you may remember I had one posted before. I've always struggled to understand the words of this great poet, but often it's worth the exercise of the mind that we have to put into it. I was somewhat excited today, though, because I understood what was being said in this excerpt from The Merchant of Venice. What beauty are in these words! I'm sure you'll see it too:

The Quality of Mercy
from The Merchant of Venice
William Shakespeare

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute of God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

Wow. Do you get what's being said here about kings? And about God?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Thoughts

Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again. Luke 18:31-33

Even though it's early this year (it really sneaked up on me), Easter has been filling the thoughts of most folks this week. Some are thinking about jelly beans, bunnies, coconut eggs, colored eggs, baby chicks, baskets, new clothes, colored "grass", and many other pretty things. Today is the first day of spring, and this is the holiday that brings us to the thoughts and pleasures of the season. (You may like this YouTube video that was made by a member of one of my Yahoo groups. I must say they did a fantastic job of bringing this all home. Try this link:

But I choose to bring my thoughts captive to the Passion of my Lord. We as Christians like to read about His life. The gospel accounts are lively and interesting as we read about His journey here on earth. We enjoy learning about His miracles and the accounts about the many encounters with His enemies. We see Him as our Prophet and King. But one of the reasons I like Easter so much is that it's the time when we particularly focus on His office as our Priest, making the ultimate sacrifice for us: Himself. Some months back, I wrote a post reflecting on His determined journey to Jerusalem. We all have our favorite posts that we wrote, and that was one of my mine. Please read it if you ever get a chance; it's here.

At any rate, when the above verses were included in my daily readings one day a couple of weeks ago, my mind was directed to Jerusalem as it was before. Once again, I have a quote by Ryle on this passage:

The love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards sinners is strikingly shown in His steady purpose of heart to die for them. All through His life He knew that He was about to be crucified. There was nothing in His cross and passion which He did not foresee distinctly, even to the minutest particular, long before it came upon Him. He tasted all the well-known bitterness of anticipated suffering. Yet He never swerved from His path for a moment. He was straitened in spirit till He had finished the work He came to do. Such love passeth knowledge. It is unspeakable, unsearchable. We may rest on that love without fear. If Christ so loved us before we thought of Him, He will surely not cease to love us after we have believed. ~ J.C. Ryle

What a Savior. And He is alive. May these wonderful truths about Him fill your thoughts during this Easter season and always. Have blessed holiday weekend, friends.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Refuge in This Election

God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . .
Psalm 46:1-2

I don't know about you, but I've been a bit distressful over this election. "What in the world are we going to do?" I've been saying. "What's going to happen to our country?" This beloved psalm is just what I needed for these times. Even though I still know that it's possible that our country may be on the verge of judgment for its increasing ungodliness, it comforts me to remember that it is our God Himself who is our hope, not a president.

"He is my refuge and strength." Do not forget the fact that God is our refuge just now, in the immediate present, as truly as when David penned the word. God alone is our all in all. All other refuges are refuges of lies. All other strength is weakness, for power belongeth unto God: but as God is all sufficient, our defence and might are equal to all emergencies. ~ C.H. Spurgeon

A little nugget from The Treasury of David by Spurgeon:

A sure stronghold our God is He,
A timely shield and weapon;
Our help He'll be, and set us free
From every ill can happen.

And were the world with devils filled,
All eager to devour us,
Our souls to fear shall little yield,
They cannot overpower us.

Chew on that, dear friends, between now and November and beyond.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Snippet - Not Far Enough

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." Mark 12:34

This morning's sermon was about the scribe who came to Jesus to ask Him which commandment was the greatest. This is the scribe who agreed with Jesus when the Lord replied that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. This same scribe even agreed with the Scriptures that teach that God wants our hearts more than outward sacrifices. Think about how far this man had gone in religion, which we can think of as a good thing, but the sad part is that he had not gone far enough. As Pastor John said, not far from is not good enough. God didn't come back and give us indication that this scribe, who had come so far, had eventually repented and believed the whole gospel of Christ. It's sad to think that someone who had come so near had not entered in. Pastor reminded us that greatly mistaken and slightly mistaken are both tragic.

I hope no one reading this post has stopped short of the kingdom. I hope no one is just almost persuaded, like King Agrippa. If you've not gone far enough, see Jesus whose atoning blood was spilled at Calvary for sinners. Embrace this Jesus, repenting and believing in His glorious gospel, being fully persuaded and you will have entered into the kingdom. Nothing can be better than that.