mercy-grace-21585658I went to the grocery store with all three of my children. The youngest is buckled in and the older two walk beside the cart, holding on. This is standard protocol for the Emery kids. We got some fresh fruit and then some milk. My youngest is learning that he can’t just have whatever he wants, whenever he wants it – he is not even two years old yet.

As we walked past the greeting card section of the store he saw an inflated ballon and really wanted it. He got loud about his want. My face turned red as heads turned and stared at me like I was a three-headed monster. What was only like 15 seconds of instruction and redirection seemed like an eternity.

With things now calm, we grabbed a few other essentials and headed to the check out stand. Hanging there at the top of the isle was another ballon and little man saw it and quickly asked for it. Now before he even got upset and loud, the person behind me sighed loudly and told me to get my child under control this time.

That loaded statement, small and maybe intended to be innocent, it was hurtful.

We think things that are judgmental, and maybe we don’t even realize it. And we say things that are judgmental too. No one, myself included, as not struggled with being judgmental. Rather than operating with an abundance of mercy and grace, we can be quick to judge others. And the scary part: we try to justify our judgmental tendencies. And yet mercy, should triumph judgement. Being judgmental is hurtful. And our judgmental ways are hurting our impact on the Kingdom of God.

God’s perfect work of mercy, can be displayed through imperfect people. James 2:12-13 says: “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” Whatever we say or do – we will be judged by it and often mercy lacks within us because we have a poor understanding of God’s mercy for ourselves and for others. It is easier to be judgmental, than to be conduits of mercy.

As disciples of Christ, we must talk and act like one who is centered in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. We must still speak boldly to the issues of our culture that are contrary to the Word of God, but we must act and speak from a place of mercy, not judgement. And if we cannot display mercy to guy in the car next to us, or to that parent in the store, then how will be able to operate from a state of mercy and grace with bigger issues – eternal issues – Biblical, Christ-centered issues – ones that we must address and speak to as disciples of Christ?

We must never compromise the standards set before us in God’s Holy Word. Nor should we compromise God’s calling on our lives to not just experience His mercy, but to be conduits of His mercy and grace. We have never been commanded to be the judge of others. Yes, we can and should assess and judge others actions by the fruit their lives produce. And yes, we can see the consequences others face because of their decisions and make an assessment, or judgment on that.

As followers of Christ, we must speak and act in such powerful ways of mercy and grace that those we encounter will see God in us, because of the extravagance of mercy and grace that we display in our lives. When you speak and act, do people see Christ in you? Regardless of the situation, big or small, do others see God at work in you and at work through you?

(Originally written for the “Faith & Insight” column of the “Nevada Appeal” – May 2015)

guarding our time with the Lord

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.” (Pslam 119:147-148)

During this next month may you be encouraged to carefully consider your prayer life. Reflect on how and when you pray. This is not done to form legalistic patterns or to measure time or volume of prayer to dictate it being enough or even good.

We should seek to monitor and guard our prayer time with the Lord. Our truth today reminds us of how very important this truly is.

Is prayer a priority in your life? Is seeking God’s heart for your life and for the elements of your day the first thing you do? Many people hear stories of great saints who get up early to pray. They pray for a long time and people attribute success of their leadership because of their devotion to God through a vibrant prayer life.

Most of us won’t have that luxury. Maybe on a retreat and all alone we might have that experience every now and again. But most of us daily won’t be able to spend hours in prayer each day. And sadly, many of us feel shame over that fact. But we shouldn’t – could you grow in this area? Probably! Should prayer and spending quality time with God, consistently, be more of your focus? More than likely yes – but feeling shame over “not doing enough” only keeps you more at distance from doing “quality stuff” with God.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others for there are many things that distract us from spending time with God in prayer.  We have to fight against those things. Life can get messy, a job can get busy, and a family member be be in terrible need. But we must not neglect the former (consistent time in prayer with the Lord) if we are going to make an eternal impact on the future.

Make an appointment with God. Ask your spouse to help you guard this time each day. Write verses of scripture on paper and tape them to your shampoo bottle. Redeem those moments in the shower or in front of the mirror as a time of prayer – by putting on the armor of God for you and family each day. Find the best time of the day for you to connect with God and make it a priority to do it then. Not when your tired and not when you are consumed.

Find someone you know who loves God and who will pray with you. Call them. Text them. Ask them to help you build up this area of your life. Start there. Start somewhere – and grow from that point.

Through prayer, God forms our hearts and transforms our lives. Through prayer we have direct access to the Lord. And through prayer we can develop our intimacy with God and our thirst for Him and His holy, righteous ways.

Is prayer a priority in your life? May you be encouraged throughout this month to reflect on your prayer life and seek ways to grow in this spiritual discipline.

(NOTE: the post today was taken from the “Daily Devos” that I write. To sign-up to receive them go to: http://nickolasemery.us6.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=026a704b43a1b6cd8af81e245&id=c95886fdad