Getting Practical: Enjoying His “Every Morning Mercy”

Today in church we were challenged to experience or embrace the mercies of God every morning from a message in Lamentations.   I call it His “every morning mercy”. It reminded me of John 15 where Jesus compared our relationship with him to that of a vine and branches.

Jesus was the master of taking everyday life and using it to paint a picture of Truths about Himself and life in the Kingdom of God. In John 15 He uses the picture of a vine and branches and fruit.  This was not just a random story but one that came from their walk.  The final words of John 14 have Jesus telling his disciples, “let’s go for a walk.” They begin to talk, perhaps looking towards the Temple in Jerusalem where the national symbol was placed on the gate.  It would be like our stars and stripes, but for the Jewish people it was a grape vine. It extended some 140 feet from the porch of the temple to the holy place.  Perfectly carved with the branches and leaves made from fine gold. The stalks that help the fruit were the size of people and the fruit that decorated the branches were costly jewels.  From time to time the rich and patriotic Jews would add to the vine’s decorations with their own riches.  The vine.  The branches.  The fruit.  It was symbol of great value and meaning for them.

Perhaps as Jesus is walking with the disciples and the gold is reflecting the lights of the evening, he gives the final of his seven “I AM” statements. You can almost hear the tone of His voice as he leans in and says, “You see that beautiful vine.  And all of that beautiful dressing on the vine?” “I am the TRUE Vine and My Father is the vinedresser.” “All of that gold carving.  That impressive work of art.  All of the fine jewelry are nice but they do nothing to help you grow.  I AM the fulfillment of everything that symbol stand for and without me you can do nothing.”

He then takes that image and paints a picture for us of how we can grow and experience the mercy of God, daily.

I can basically sum up this passage by saying that we experience His “every morning mercy” as we create an intentional environment to experience it in. 7 times from verse 1 to verse 8, Jesus uses the word “abide”.  It means to live in or make your home with, or remain.  It is the picture the branch connected to the vine, receiving everything it needs to live. He is abiding, remaining, depending, and enjoying the sap of the vine running through its veins.

It is the same for us. If we hope to have growth in our lives, experience His “every morning mercy”, we cannot depend on anything other than intimacy with Jesus..

But the question still remains, what do we do with that, practically?

Here is how I approach experiencing His “every morning mercy”.

I make sure that I have consistent time given to my relationship with God.  All relationships, even our relationship with God, grows intimate through time and consistency.

  • Set a time and place (not about how many times or even how long).
  • Have a Plan. (Bible reading plan, book of the Bible, etc.)

I Always Read the Bible – Without some kinds of regular time in God’s Word is impossible to stay on track for God’s purpose.  The Bible is the primary way that God speaks to us.

When reading the Bible there are THREE basic questions I like to ask.

  • What is God saying about Himself?
  • What does this teach me about following Jesus more fully?
  • What do I need to do because of this passage? What is the action that this scripture calls me to?
  • Is there something I need to thank God for?
  • Is there something I need ask forgiveness for?
  • Is there a behavior/attitude that needs to change?

I always respond in Prayer – Prayer is simply a conversation with God that is meant to draw us closer to Him and align our hearts with His.

  • Spend time thanking God for who He is. It is taking time to worship God.
  • Ask for His help to put into action what you heard Him say in His Word.
  • Pray for needs in other people’s lives.
  • Prayer for needs in your life.

If spending time with God is a new thing for you, do not be overwhelmed by the idea that it has to be a big mystical experience.  It can be 10 minutes on the back patio drinking coffee, watching your dog play….It is not about spending time every single day.  It is not about reading and praying for an hour.  It is simply about you taking a little time for you to get to know God better so you can live the life He desires for you.

The main thing is that we are enjoying the goodness of His “every morning mercy”.  We don’t deserve it. But He still gives it.

 

 

 

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I AM THE DAD: Dream On

I am the dad of three really good, sweet, kids.  They are each unique and a joy. I really do believe in them and the possibilities for their lives in so many ways.

Two of my three are at the age where they are painting the pictures in their minds of “what could be” one day when they are grown.  My daughter, who is 13, is creative.  She sings, she paints, she draws, she acts, she plays the ukulele. I know she pictures herself performing on the “big stage” in some way. The other day I asked all three of my kids what they dreamed of doing one day.  Her answer, “be an actor in a Disney show.”  I love that dream!

My oldest son will turn 11 soon.  When I asked him what he dreamed of doing one day, he had two answers.  His biggest dream is to play basketball in the NBA. His second dream is to work for LEGO as a LEGO designer.

My youngest son is 5.  When I asked him what he wanted be when he grew up he said, “Be like Emmet in the LEGO movie, play basketball, play football, play baseball, and drive a rocket-ship.” I am good with those.

I love the big dreams of my kids.  Their dreams are so pure, exciting, and realistic in their minds.

As their dad, I want them to pursue their dreams.  I don’t want to push them into pursuing what I think should be their dreams. I also know that odds are stacked against them in some of their dreams.

So what do I do?  How do I encouraging them without burdening them?  How do I help them hold on to their dreams and teach them about the hard work it takes to make them a reality?  How do I help them enjoy what they are doing and not put pressure on them to be the greatest in the world?  How do I make sure I am not just trying to vicariously live out my dreams through them?

Then, how do I help them when their dreams may start to fade into the abyss of reality? As a dreamer myself, I am really not a fan of reality sometimes.

I don’t have an answer.  I don’t have “5 ways to make them better”, “3 things to always do to help my kids be successful”, or “The 1 secret to helping them get there.”

So for now I have just decided to dream with them.  Or as Steven Tyler would say “Dream on!” There is enough reality all day every day.  They will do their school work.  We will walk through the ups and downs of growing up. We will deal with the realities of the moment. I am not going to fill their egos with unrealistic thoughts of guaranteed success.  But, I want them to have the freedom to dream. I want them to dream. They need to dream. We can come up with a “backup plan” later.

I want to imagine the amazing performance or game winning shot with them.  I want to talk about how awesome it could be.  I want to toss in a poke and prod of “it takes commitment and hard work”.  I want to help them find opportunities to explore their dreams. I want to make sure they know that I love watching them pursue their dreams. I want Emily to know that I love to watch her act, hear her sing and play.  I want James to know that I love to watch him drive to the basket. I want to re-live his “highlights” with him.   I want Andy to know that flying a rocket-ship would be AWESOME!

I want to make sure they know that I believe in them and will do anything for them along the way.

Above all though, I want them to know that it is not what they do, whether they are successful or not, that determines their value or my love for them.  Their value is set for all eternity by Truth. Their value is set in the eternal reality that they are loved by God.  That is not a dream they have to pursue.  That is the reality they live in now and forever.

All that to say, I just want to love them well on the road to their dreams or to wherever life may take them.

Dream on.