Mercy! – November 25, 2022

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (KJV)

Military Devotion – November 25, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 16:34 (KJV)

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes, what we want is not what we need—and what we need is not what we want. That’s the way it is with us humans.

Good thing our loving God knows that! He knows what we want, and he sees what we need. Ask a three-year-old what she wants for breakfast, and she might say “ice cream.” Because her mother loves her, oatmeal is what she gets. This does not bring about a happy face.

Years later, she may be thankful for her mother’s action—as she lovingly prepares oatmeal for her own child.

We might relate to that. Perhaps, we have also learned that what we once desperately wanted would not have been good for us. Maybe, we are now thankful that we did not get it. As we make our list of what we are thankful for today, we may want to include some prayers that were answered with a “No!”

Because God is good, he will not give us things that are not good. Our frown will not cause him to change his mind.

The psalmist encourages us to “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1).

Some benefits quickly come to mind: good food, good friends, and good health. Thus, we might say, “Thank you, Lord, for my warm house, my loving family, and my secure job.” That’s a good list.

We may think of dangers and hardships that have been overcome. “Thank you, Lord, for bringing me home safely from deployment, for my parents surviving the hurricane, and for protecting me from Covid.” That’s a good prayer.

Yet, the Bible leads us to look more closely at the background in the picture of our life. It shows the face of God is there. He was always there.

He is the LORD. He answers to no one. What if he were evil instead of good or stingy instead of generous? Even more reason to heed the words, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.”

Many who have deployed to faraway places have come away with the realization that many Americans live an abundant life compared to others.

We complain about rising prices while others face empty shelves. We worry about weight gain while others watch their children grow gaunt and weak. We murmur over the price of gasoline while some others watch the skies for deadly incoming rounds.

Much of what we want are things we do not need—or do not truly need more of.

There is one thing, however, that we need most desperately, even if we do not realize it. There is something we cannot survive without.

We, who can sing of America, “My country ‘tis of thee,” must include the words, “God shed his grace on thee.” The Bible says, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).

“Not consumed?” Suddenly we realize we have more at stake than food, shelter, and life’s trinkets.

Our very life is on the line. The door to eternity is only a few steps away. Our only hope lies in the mercy of the omnipotent Lord God.

The grace of God is the undeserved love of God. Because that love is undeserved, it is rightfully called his mercy. About that, we are told, “For his mercy endures forever!”

For how long will he forgive our crimes against his holy law? Forever.

For how long will he love us? Forever.

For how long will we live in the happy home Jesus is preparing for us? Forever and ever.

How does this make us feel? Happy? Thankful?” It should.

But are we happy enough? Thankful enough?

Probably not? Certainly not!

Will we be booted from the kingdom of God for this failure?

Absolutely not!

We should be, but we won’t be.

The Lord we love and serve has also covered this shortcoming with the perfection of Christ. We are the recipients of his mercy.

Mercy is what we need, and mercy is what we want. Mercy is what we get.

Thank God!

Prayer: We give heartfelt thanks to you, O Lord, for you are good, and your mercy does endure forever. Amen.

Points to ponder:

  • Why do we quickly think of material blessings rather than spiritual ones?
  • When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” are we asking for the last return of Jesus?
  • How would we explain the concept of forever to a child?

Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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