I Am a Friend of God

It Takes Faith and Hope

Is it even within the realm of possibility for a human being to be known as a friend of God—by God? Yep! Abraham attained the lofty status of God’s friend, and Romans 4:24 says you can, too: “But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless.” (MSG)

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 25: 7-8

Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

Reading the story of Abraham in Genesis can lead to only one conclusion: This man was a true hero of the faith! Here’s a guy who was saved by faith even before there was a Bible or the Law or Christ’s death and resurrection or a community of faith. God appeared to Abraham one day—we’re not even sure if he’d had any previous interaction with God or if this was simply an out-of-the-blue encounter—and Abraham said, “Okay God—I’m on board. What’s next?” Abraham then went on a life-long journey with God in which he became known as a friend of God—a pretty cool designation, I’d say—the genetic father of God’s people, the Jews, and the spiritual father of all who believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ:

His faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. (James 2:23)

So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. (Romans 4:16-17)

Obviously, Abraham was a very special man, and the Bible holds him up as an example to emulate for believers like you and me. We all ought to be Abraham-like in the spiritual dimension of our lives. But is that even possible? Is there even the smallest chance that I can develop that same kind of Abraham-like relationship with God? Can I attain a walk with God that will be an Abraham-like example to others? And if it’s possible, then how? Well, it is possible! Paul goes on to say,

But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. (Romans 4:24, MSG)

How can we attain friendship with God? I can sum up the “how” in two words: Faith and hope—technically, that’s three words, but work with me! First, you’ve got to make resurrection the foundation of your faith. That’s what Abraham did! Romans 4:17 says, “Abraham believed in the God who brings back the dead to life.” Abraham was a little ahead of his time—like a few thousand years—but he believed in the God of the resurrection. What Paul is referring to here is the story of God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the altar (you can read the story in Genesis 22), and Abraham’s willingness to actually go through with it. Why would Abraham be willing to do such a thing? Because he had faith in the God of the resurrection—the God who could, and would, raise Isaac back to life again. The truth is, to have that kind of Abraham-like faith, you and I have to have that same Abraham-like trust in the God of the resurrection. If you don’t have a foundational and resolute belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and his promise to resurrect you from the dead, your faith will not only not develop to Abraham-like proportions, it will be meaningless. Paul teaches us in I Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” In other words, if we have no faith in the God of the resurrection, then I am wasting my energy writing this blog…and you’re wasting your time reading it…and you’ll never come close to living an Abraham-like life of faith. But the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead proves that God is who he said he is and will fulfill what he has promised to do. And the faith you place in the God who resurrects the dead will empower you to live the kind of God-honoring faith that Abraham had. Second, you’ve got to claim resurrection as the basis of your hope. That, too, is what Abraham did. Romans 4:18 tells us that “even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept on hoping”…believing in God’s promises that one day he would be the father of many nations when his only son, through whom his lineage would continue, was about to die. In other words, Abraham didn’t let his circumstances dominate his life; he allowed God’s promises to dictate his life. Abraham believed that if Isaac was going to die on the altar, God would raise him to life. That was his hope. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, but the exercise of that kind of hope is arguably the most powerful discipline you can engage as a believer. Count Bismarck said, “Without the hope of [Christian resurrection], this life is not worth the effort of getting dressed in the morning.” He was right! Christian hope is that important, and that powerful. Karl Marx proclaimed that religious hope is the opiate of the people. But Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.” And Paul writes in Romans 5:5 that this “hope does not disappoint us!” Do you practice hope? I’m not talking about the breezy kind of optimism that Mary Martin sang about in South Pacific when she crooned, “I’m stuck like a dope with a thing called hope.” I’m talking about the exercise of hope that declares that you are choosing to believe in God’s promises, not just in spite of the evidence, but in scorn of the consequences. We’ve been called to practice that kind of hope. Faith, hope and the resurrection…that was Abraham’s secret. I have faith that it will be your secret too…at least I hope so!

Going Deeper: Here is a prayer I would encourage you to offer up right now: “Father Abraham had many sons, and I want to be one of them. I want to offer the same kind of believing faith that led him to follow you without knowing the destination, to obey you when it seemed foolish, and to stare death in the face and express the hope of the resurrection. And I want to be your friend, too! Give me Abraham-like faith!”

Be Blessable

Praying for the Sweet Spot

You’ve got to love the sweet spot of God’s will! Some days are like that: we are in the blessing zone of God’s favor, and everything simply falls into place, with one minor miracle after another, making for one big miraculous day. But other days, not so much: we simply walk by faith and in obedience, not seeing evidence of God’s activity, going without knowing, trusting in the goodness of a God who “does all things well.” Our hope is that this day will include the sweet spot of God’s will, but that is not our call. Our singular duty today is to put one footstep of faith in front of the other, and leave the “when,” “where” and “how” of blessing up to God.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 24: 7,12, 27, 50

Abraham said to his servant, “the Lord…will send his angel before you…” Abraham’s servant prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my Master…” After Abraham’s servant [had met Rebekah] he bowed down and worshipped the Lord, saying, “the Lord has led me…” [Rebekah’s father and grandfather] Laban and Bethuel answered [Abraham’s servant, upon his request to take Rebekah back to Canaan to be Isaac’s wife], “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.”

Ya gotta love the sweet spot of God’s will!

Some days are like that: we’re in the blessing zone of God’s favor, and everything simply falls into place. The other shoe never drops, but rather, it’s minor miracle after minor miracle, making for one big miraculous day.

We all long for days like that, and sometimes, we get them. At other times, we must simply walk in faith and obedience—we go without knowing, yet trusting in the goodness of a God who “does all things well,” in faith that we are being guided by the good hand of a loving Heavenly Father.

In reality, Abraham’s servant had to go without knowing—he journeyed hundreds of dangerous miles, not really knowing much of anything about Abraham’s relatives. He faced the very real possibility that Laban would reject his request. There was a great deal of trust and obedience in his journey of faith. And God went before him, giving him everything he had prayed for.

From our perspective on this side of history, it was just one of those great days for Abraham’s servant—he was in the zone, the sweet spot of God’s will. But from the servant’s perspective, it was one footstep of faith in front of the other until he hit “pay-dirt”.

Our hope is that this day will include the sweet spot of God’s will, that the steps we take will lead us to pay-dirt! But that is not our call. Whether we experience one sweet victory after another today, or it is a battle from the word go, our singular duty is to put one footstep of faith at a time in front of the other, and leave the “when,” “where” and “how” of blessing up to God.

Father, I will trust and obey you today no matter what. I will put one footstep of faith in front of the other footstep of faith. I pray that you would strengthen me to please you this day in that regard. But I also pray that I would have a day like Abraham’s servant, where you would go before me and show kindness and success today. I pray that you will lead me and at the end of the day, those who may be observing my life would just have to say, ‘God was with him.’ Father, bless me today with the sweet spot of your favor! I ask humbly in Jesus Name.

Going Deeper: Before you head out into your day, take a moment to thank God that he is already out there in front of you, calling you into where he already is. Now that should inspire confidence, no matter what this day holds.

Memory: The Bittersweet Gift

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

It has been said that when you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. So live your life that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. You have the opportunity to live today in such a way that how you want to be remembered at the time of your passing will be true then.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 23:1-2

When Sarah was 127 years old, she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.

An insightful person has profoundly written of death, “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. So live your life that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” Sarah was 127 years old when she passed from this life to the next, and even after decades of journeying through this life as her husband, Abraham was still stung by grief. He must have expected that day, he must have, in some way, prepared his mind for her passing, yet he was still heart broken with grief from the loss of his soul-mate. She had lived in such a way that her world mourned her passing.

The great preacher Ray Stedman said of Abraham’s weeping over Sarah,

The well of grief is fed by the springs of memory. All the dear, sweet days came crowding in upon [him] here. I think he saw in his mind’s eye that beautiful girl who captured his heart long, long ago. I think it was in the spring, for even back in those days in the spring a young man’s fancy turned to what the young women had been thinking about all winter! ‘Boy meets girl’ was the same wonderful story back in the days of Abraham some 4,000 years ago as it is today. As the old man wept over the body of Sarah, he must have remembered all those wonderful times. Memories passed through his fingers like pearls on a string. He remembered the sunlight glittering in her hair when he first saw her, the radiance of her face on her wedding day, the softness of her touch, and the grace of her caress. Each remembrance brought a heartache in the darkness of his grief at this hour. He recalled the high adventure of their life together, and especially that supreme, compelling call from God that sent them out as a couple together into an unknown land. He remembered how Sarah went along with him, sharing hardships, accepting the unsettled life without a murmur or complaint. How his heart must have been wrung with anguish as he remembered anew the perfidy he showed in Egypt when he exposed her to danger and dishonor with his lie before Pharaoh, and again years later before Abimelech! All the bittersweet memories came in upon him as he recalled their long, weary years without a child and how they wept together. He remembered how Sarah cried bitter tears over that barren womb and how in her desperation to give him a son, she offered her handmaid, even at the cost of her pride, and Ishmael was born. All of this must have filled Abraham’s heart and mind as he wept here before Sarah. He remembered, too, how at long last, glory shone in her face when her own son, Isaac, lay in her arms. His memory ran back through the years and retraced the love that drew them together, through the bad times and through the good, till they were one in body, mind, and heart. Now death has torn her from his arms though it could never tear her from his heart.

It would be easy to pass over these two verses and quickly move on in the story of God to the patriarchs to come—Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. But pause for a moment in this story and let this touch your soul. Abraham loved Sarah. In an age where marriage is treated as but one of many options, where divorce is no big deal, where committed, faithful, exclusive love is barely recognizable—perhaps even mocked or maybe viewed as an ideal from an era gone by—that this man had loved his wife this much touches the readers’ heartstrings.

And now that Sarah was gone, the bittersweet gift of memories held him at the place of death until it was time for him to square his shoulders and move forward into the story that God had written for Abraham’s seed. Yet thank God for those memories. And thank God for the pain of loss, for it meant that this couple had found and built with one another a love so great that death could not rip it from the heart of the surviving spouse. When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure—and nothing could take Abraham’s treasure from him.

Yet Genesis 23:3 tells us that Abraham moved on from there: “Then Abraham rose from before his dead.” Life must go on. The living must live. And while in that moment it would be difficult for Abraham to take the next step, to look beyond the sorrow of today to see to possibility of tomorrow, the treasure of Sarah’s memory made the journey sweeter.

Why did the Scripture include this detail of Abraham’s grief? Why would the Lord have us pause at the graveside of this man to peer into his grief, albeit for a moment? The answer is simple: this is life. And one day, we, too, will stand in grief at the place of the dead. We, too, will feel as if the road has ended, that we have not strength to move on. But we, too, will rise up, for life will call us forward. But we must remember that while the dearly departed loved one is gone, they are not forgotten. Love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. (Rossiter Worthington Raymond)

Memories—God’s photo album for the human heart. The opportunity you have today is to make those memories with the ones you love. Today is the day you have to so live your life that when you die, the world will cry but you will rejoice. Make sure to take some good photographs today!

Going Deeper: Before you do anything else today, pause to think about how you want others to remember you at your passing. Now so live today as to assure that will be true then.

A Tested Faith — A Trusted Faith

Trust What Is Trustworthy

Authentic faith doesn’t demand an explanation; it rests on expectation—the conviction that God is always true to his character and to his promise. When our faith is tested, it is always to prove this very truth: God is trustworthy and true to his word.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 22:1

“Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith.”

The brilliant Thomas Aquinas wrote, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Authentic faith doesn’t demand an explanation; it rests on expectation—the conviction that God is always true to his character and to his promise.

But what in the world do you do with this story as God asks Abraham to slay his son as a sign of his obedience? Why did God test Abraham with such a severe trial, and if he did that to him, will he do that to me? Here’s what we need to understand about this and all tests that come from God’s hand:

First, God’s tests are never without preparation. Notice the very first line: “Some time later God tested…” With God, time always comes before testing. This test came only after the events of Abraham’s life that we’ve been reading about since Genesis 12. God didn’t suddenly spring this extreme test on Abraham—and he’ll never spring one on you. One of the unchanging truths about God is that he’ll not give you a test that you cannot pass.

Second, God’s tests are never without purpose. In Genesis 22:12, the Lord stops Abraham from slaying Isaac, and says, “Now I know that you fear God.” The word “test” is used eight times in the Old Testament when God does the testing, and each time it’s used in this sense of “to prove.” God’s testing is not to expose, but to improve. When God says, “now I know”, it’s not for God’s benefit; it’s to give Abraham confidence that his faith is not misplaced. Abraham’s faith was tried; God’s faithfulness was verified—both were proven trustworthy in Abraham’s mind. Our faith is not really proven until God asks us to bear what seems unbearable, do what seems unreasonable, and expect what seems impossible.

Third, God’s tests are never without provision. Genesis 22:14 says, “So Abraham called the place ‘The LORD will provide.’” The emphasis here is not on the provision, but “the Lord” who provides. And the most important provision in this test—and in every test—is a prophetic revelation. The physical provision, whether a ram, a physical healing, or a million dollars for a ministry vision is secondary to a deeper revelation of the One who provides it! God tests your faith in order to prophetically reveal himself. And this test revealed to Abraham that in the journey of faith, God would always be present, and God would always provide. The Lord provides—always—for Abraham, and for you, too!

Now remember, God had promised Abraham a son, and not just one, but descendants as numerous as the stars. And not just increase, but the promise was for impact—that the whole world would be blessed through Abraham’s seed. Naturally, he wanted to know how that could happen when all he had was Isaac, and he, himself was advancing well into old age. So God shows him here in chapter 22 in this test with a sneak peek at the universal blessing to come in the ultimate sacrifice of the ultimate seed in Abraham’s line: Jesus.

This command to offer his only son prefigures God offering his only Son as a sacrifice for the world. Let me explain: In John 8:56-57, the Jews question Jesus’ authority by arrogantly claiming to be Abraham’s rightful heirs. So Jesus says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews respond, “You’re not yet fifty years old, and you’ve seen Abraham?”

Now that’s not a question—it’s a rejection of Jesus’ crazy claim that Abraham had literally witnessed the events of his life, death and resurrection. Now if that’s true—that Abraham rejoiced when he saw Christ’s sacrifice, where’s it recorded in the Old Testament? Right here in Genesis 22—when God steps in to spare Isaac by providing a substitute.

This is irrefutable evidence that something bigger than just the sacrifice of Abraham’s only son was going on here: For a specific reason, God sent him three days to this area. God told him that the sacrifice was to take place on a mountain in the region of Moriah. It’s the very site where Jerusalem will be situated. It’s the very mount where Jesus will be sacrificed. (Calvary) Did God randomly choose a three-day journey to death on Mount Calvary? Of course not! Genesis 22:14 prophetically declares, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” This was an Old Testament shadow of the New Testament reality to come.

Furthermore, notice Abraham’s prophetic response in Genesis 22:8 as Isaac points out there’s no animal for the sacrifice: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” The King James Version chose to translate that as: “Son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Perhaps I’m taking liberty with the text, but by what Jesus said in John 8, I think that’s a prophetically accurate rendering: God will provide himself as the lamb. Which he did—literally, for Abraham; literally, for the whole world. As John 1:29 says, he provided himself as, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is stunning beyond belief, a revelation that only came through testing.

Martin Luther read this account for family devotions, and his wife, Kate, objected, “Martin, I don’t believe this. God wouldn’t treat his son like that!” Luther said, “But, Katie, he did!”

God tested Abraham’s faith, substituting the Lamb, to prophetically reveal himself as the God who provides. When he puts you through a test, that is what he will graciously do for you, too!

Going Deeper: Are you in a test? Look for a revelation of God himself, as he meets you in your test as the God who provides.

This Is God

He Is Sovereign

Here, in a nutshell, is God: He keeps his word and fulfills his promise. He does the impossible, because nothing is too hard for the Lord. He fulfills his promise and does the impossible according to his timing, for he is sovereign. This is God.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 21:1-2

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.

Here, in a nutshell, is God.

The very first thing we see in this Genesis 21 as the story unfolds of ninety-year old Sarah getting pregnant and having a son, Issac, is that God keeps his word and fulfills his promises.

God is a faithful God. It all starts here. If it were not for the unfailing trustworthiness of God, human faith would not be possible. But God has proven himself to be true. He is a promise making and a promise keeping God.

There is nothing truer and more dependable than God’s word. By the way, that is why the great statements of faith in Christendom start with the authority of Scripture, what we refer to as God’s Word. If it weren’t for that fact, we could not pass go, we could not collect $200. It would be game over for the Christian faith. God’s Word is true; God is true to his Word!

Furthermore, believing that God keeps his word, believing that what he said is true and trustworthy enough to obey is the essence of faith. We are told in Genesis 15:6 that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

The second thing we see in this Genesis 21 is that God does the impossible. Don’t forget, Sarah is ninety, and Abraham is one hundred—they are well past the years of child bearing. But what might seem an impossibility to man is no big deal to the Creator. After all, he spoke the worlds into existence out of nothing.

Faith begins with the invisible we are told in Hebrews 11:1-3. To bring forth from the invisible into reality is an impossibility for man, but as we learn in Sarah’s doubting from Genesis 18:14, there is “nothing that is too hard for the Lord.”

Faith will by its very nature lead the God-follower into human impossibilities. That is why essential to human faith is the commitment to this driving value: nothing is impossible for God. That belief will be required, early and often, to keep the journey of faith moving toward God in daunting circumstances, in the face of doubting people, and through the dips and depressions of unreliable emotions.

Faith must see the invisible and believe the impossible—because that is the realm from which God operates in the world and in the believer’s life.

The third thing we see as this chapter begins is that not only does God keep his word and not only does God do the impossible, but God does everything according to his timing.

God is sovereign, after all. He does things the way he wants when he wants, and although his timing is not always, not usually, our timing, he has perfect timing. To enjoy a vibrant faith in the sovereign God, therefore, the believer must trust when they can’t see that God is at work.

Faith accepts, and even celebrates, that God, along with his timing, is sovereign. Hebrews 11:6 puts it this way: “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

This, in a nutshell, is God:

God keeps his word and fulfills his promises—always.

God does the impossible, because nothing is too hard for the Lord—absolutely nothing,

God’s timing, because he is sovereign is impeccable—without fail.

This is God. Therefore, put all your hope in him, and you will not be disappointed.

Going Deeper: Spend time today thanking God for his trustworthiness, his power and his sovereignty.

The Great Overruler

God Will Get His Glory

God overrules our mistakes for his glory. Of course, this is no blank check to do as we please. Nor is it denying that there will be sad and ongoing consequences from our mistakes. But at the end of the day, God can turn everything—the good and the bad—for the benefit of his own glory and for our good.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 20:2-3

Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace. But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!”

The great hymn writer and pastor, John Newton, wrote, “We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage.” Thank God.

By the way, Newton knew what he was talking about. He was formerly a profligate and slave-trader, treating human beings in the most inhumane and unspeakable ways, simply because of the color of their skin—until God took hold of him, redeeming and repurposing his evil life for a good life that has been lifting the world over for centuries. Neither sinner nor saint can listen to Newton’s most famous work, Amazing Grace, without becoming suddenly and powerfully aware of the mighty grace of God against the backdrop of their own utter unworthiness. (Read a brief biography of John Newton here)

God overrules our mistakes for his glory. Of course, this is no blank check to do as we please. Nor is it denying that there will be sad and ongoing consequences from our mistakes. But at the end of the day, God can turn everything—the good and the bad—for the benefit of his own glory and for our good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)

When you are called by God, and when you love God, you cannot lose. You might come through it battered and bruised—self-inflicted wounds from sinful actions and short-sighted decisions—but in the end, and even along the way, you win.

Such is the case with Abraham in this chapter. His nagging fear overcame the stellar faith that has made him noteworthy to God and man in the previous eight chapters that have brought us to this moment Genesis 20. Apparently, his wife Sarah, who technically is his half-sister, is a very beautiful woman—even as she advances in age. And Abraham’s faith, yes the same faith that has led God to credit it as righteousness, has given way to fear—a recurring fear of being killed because of her looks (he thinks others will bump him off so they can take her as their own). So Abraham fudges, stretching the truth in a humanistic plan to protect his life.

Sure enough, it looks like his fear will become reality. (Job 3:25) King Abimelech sees the beautiful Sarah and desires her. That’s when Abraham implements his survival plan—a plan, obviously, which doesn’t say much about the value of Sarah in her husband’s eyes at this point in the development of his faith. But as the story goes, God steps in and saves the day, along with the honor of this cast of characters—the beautiful Sarah, the clueless king, and the fearful patriarch.

God saves the day! He does that a lot, you know. Sometimes several times throughout our day. It’s pretty much a full-time job for him. Of course, there are consequences. Of course, this is no “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But isn’t this a comfort to our soul?

If we properly understand God’s overruling work, we will give every effort to walk in his ways, to follow in faith while rebuffing fear, and to trust in him with all our heart while refusing to lean on our own understanding. Yes, God can overrule our mistakes, but how much better would it be if he didn’t have to!

Going Deeper: First of all, take a moment to express your gratitude to the Great Overruler. Second, ask him to give you a moment of clear seeing so that you are not leaning on your own understanding in any matter of your life.


Light Beams of Mercy in the Darkness of Judgment

God Abounds in Love

Even in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah’s arrogant indifference to God’s expressed command, God still found a way to express his mercy. He spared Lot’s family because he was merciful. He still is. He always will be. Even up to the moment of the final judgment, God will be looking for even the slightest opening to insert his undeserved mercy to sinners deserving of Divine wrath.

The Journey // Focus: Genesis 19:16, 29

When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful… But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.

Thank God for his mercy!

Even in the midst of the dark and depressing reality of righteous judgment, we always find light beams of God’s loving-kindness. To the very end, God is looking for ways to demonstrate mercy and grace to wayward sinners, deserving of Divine wrath for their flagrant disregard of the Law of God. God is a seeking, forgiving, restoring Creator—it is his nature; he just can’t help himself.

In Genesis 19, one of the darkest chapters in the Bible, as the fires of judgment are falling on Sodom and Gomorrah for their flagrant disregard of God’s moral law, the angel of the Lord grabs the procrastinating family of Lot by the hands and pulls them to safety. Why? Genesis 19:16 says it was because, “the Lord was merciful.”

Think about that: in the midst of Sodom and Gomorrah’s arrogant indifference of God’s commands, even after they had been warned to flee the coming judgment, God still found a way to express his mercy.

God was merciful. He still is. He always will be. Even up to the moment of the ultimate and final judgment, God will be looking for even the slightest opening to insert his mercy to sinners deserving of Divine wrath.

God is merciful. He just can’t help himself. When there is a chance, he will pursue the sinner with reckless abandon that he might shower them with loving-kindness—undeserved mercy and unmerited grace. You might even say that God is recklessly merciful. While Divine justice and the final judgment that it requires will not be withheld forever, for God would not be just if he did, he will go way out of his way, way beyond the call of duty, to spare the sinner. Scripture bears that out, of course:

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9)

Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:13)

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. (Micah 7:18)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 103:8)

God was, is and forever shall be, great in mercy and abounding in love. That is true for you—thank God.

But don’t forget, that can be true for those you love because of you. For at the end of this sad story of judgment we find that those light beams of mercy that shined upon Lot’s undeserving family were the result of Abraham’s intercession before a merciful God looking for a cause to pardon the guilty. Genesis 19:29 says, “But God had listened to Abraham’s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.”

Don’t forget to embrace God’s mercy in your life today—or any day. But just as importantly, don’t forget to ask God to extend that same mercy to the people He has put in your life who may be in danger of Divine judgment.

Thank God for a Creator who delights to show mercy!

Going Deeper: Do you need mercy? That is God’s specialty, so ask him. And don’t forget to live your life thereafter as one long thank you to God for his undeserved loving-kindness. Likewise, don’t forget to ask God for his mercy on behalf of the people he has placed in your life. Perhaps he has placed them there for that very purpose.