Friendships drenched in mercy.

I am still mulling over grace and mercy and how God lavishes it upon us. I’ve also been reading Refine Us whenever they post blogs, and I am just enthralled by the possibilities of grace and mercy in my marriage.

Really, I’m excited about it in relationships in general.

I tend to love the body of Christ when all is working well and people are being Jesus. I tend to get frustrated and feel hopeless when Christ-followers have fallen off the turnip truck. However, grace and mercy bring us back.

I’ve been thinking about my best friend, Amelia. We’re now 1500 miles apart. We’ve been friends for about three years, and really upped the status after Aaron left for the military. We’ve been through a lot, and grown a lot. We’ve argued (which I think is essential for any relationship, because otherwise, someone’s not speaking up) and we’ve resolved. We have a nearly five-year age gap, but there are things that keep us in common water, like knitting, and general awesomeness.

I’m stubborn. I don’t like to open up to people about my issues, especially girls. I, just like every other female on the face of the planet, has been “burned” in friendships before. So I was pretty guarded with Amelia. Then, probably about six to nine months ago, decided to just let it go and be vulnerable. She knows pretty much everything about me, even the ugly stuff. She was one of the first people I shared my [our] testimony with.

I was thinking about her because of this idea of mercy… that when a friend confides in you, you should be merciful and not judge. Lord knows there have been plenty of times when she could have said, “Well, I told you so,” or “Don’t you know your sin has consequences?” I’ve said these things before, and there have been times she could probably read them on my face. (My face tells no lies… I am the worst liar ever.)

I love that mercy makes me a better friend. Not only is Amelia benefiting from my loving best-friend arms (or ears here in Texas), but I am blessed by a friendship that goes beyond age, occupation, marital status, or geography. 

The Lord really does knit together our friendships, if we keep them close to Him. This is one I never want to let go. It keeps me on my toes. Although I now have my husband, who is by default the best friend, I have a close girl friend to keep me accountable to my vulnerability. We also have to be willing to hear a hard word. That’s one of the biggest reasons I don’t like to open up… I don’t want to be told that maybe I should take a look at myself in the mirror.

We say that we “just don’t want to get hurt” and that “opening up to someone is hard”. Yeah, it is. But can you imagine if Paul and Timothy never had that open and honest relationship? Part of the New Testament never would have been written! 

I pray that God will continue to nudge me towards mercy and steer me away from judgment.

Gospel Challenge: Matthew 5-6, Jesus’ teachings

Wow! I am blown away by all the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5 and 6. We truly could live on His words alone, as He fulfills the Old Testament and Law. One thing that I didn’t really realize before is how concise Jesus is in His teaching… a take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing.

Matthew

5 Jesus spoke to His disciples: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who seek righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers, the persecuted

5:13-16 As salt and light, we can bring out the best in others, just as seasonings bring out the best in food. Our light should illuminate the goodness of God.

5:17 Jesus has come to fulfill the law and the prophets.. there is no need for ceremonial law because it is no longer necessary to sacrifice animals, etc, because Jesus came as the Ultimate Sacrifice. However, Jesus did follow completely the moral law.

5:21 We are subject to judgment if we hate our brother — we should reconcile with him and bring our sacrifice to the alttar

5:27 If you look at someone with lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart.

5:37 Be honest: Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”.. keep your word.

5:38 Do not retaliate — turn the other cheek. If someone sues you for your shirt, give him also your coat.

5:43 Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Even the pagans do that…

6:1 Don’t parade around when you give to the needy; be humble.

6:6 Pray in secret, not standing in the streets in order to look righteous; be humble.

6:9-13 the Lord’s Prayer — simple, sincere, and succinct.

6:14 Forgive men as the Father would forgive them so that you may also be forgiven.

6:16 Do not make a public declaration of fasting; be humble.

6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

6:22 Keep your eyes clean.

6:24 “You cannot serve both God and Money.” We must choose a master.

6:25-33 Do not worry about money, or food, or clothes — pagans run after those things. Seek first His kingdom.

6:34 Tomorrow will worry about itself.

Gospel Challenge: Matthew 1-4

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I said I was going to take the challenge from our pastor to read through the Gospels. I don’t know if it was a formal challenge, but it sounded like a good idea… I’ve heard most of these stories in some form or another my whole life (remember those felt boards with the paper Bible characters??) and I feel like I need a fresh and more objective perspective.

So… starting with Matthew (and I’m primarily reading from the New American Standard Bible), I’m just going to put down the chapter and verse and an observation. Posting this on my blog also makes me be accountable for actually, ya know, reading the Bible. I want to live like Jesus really wants us to, not by some contrived doctrine, customs, or rules that were made up by men (not saying all traditions/expectations are wrong.. just wanting to get to the source). Maybe I’ll add some commentary later. For now, I just want to ponder.

Feel free to discuss!

Matthew

1:18 Joseph was obedient and took Mary as his wife even though she was already found to be with child.

3:8 John the Baptist spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.” In verse 10, he goes on to say, “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

3:11 John baptized with water for repentance, but Jesus baptizes with Holy Spirit and fire.

4:7 In temptation, the devil even knew Scripture, but Jesus knew more.

4:10 The devil left Him when He rebuked Him with Scripture.

4:13 Jesus did not begin preaching in His hometown (He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum).

4:18 He called ordinary but obedient people to be His disciples.

4:23 He preached the Gospel and healed every disease and sickness.