Part 7: Chapter 6 – Day 2: Behold Jesus: The Mercy Seat of our God

Welcome to Day 2 of Chapter 6 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Anna is bringing forward our second free will offering of The Mercy Seat.

What does it mean to come boldly before the throne of grace in our time of need? As a teenager, I thought that coming boldly was conditional and that I didn’t meet the conditions. As a returned Prodigal I began attending a church that taught something very similar. The course they taught interpreted physical and mental illness as punishments born of curses we had called upon ourselves in our sin, and as God removing His Presence from us in our “cursed” state, instead of recognizing the power of the blood that has lifted the curse of sin and death:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Colossians 2:13-15, ESV

The book they used prescribed ritual-like steps of cleansing required to restore us to God and His service. Steps ironically “supported” by Bible passages taken out of context and wielded without the Holy Spirit’s leading to try and steal, kill and destroy (just as the devil tried to do with Bible passages he wielded against Jesus in the desert).

Sadly, my old self, my church’s leaders and fellow church members failed to understand what Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic, has so beautifully come to realize and live out:

“If I have any tenacity or strength at all, it is recognizing what a treasure trove I have in my weakness, because that is the very thing that drives me to the cross of Jesus Christ, every single day.”

Source: https://www.jesuscalling.com/podcast/lifeline-drowning-hurts-joni-eareckson-tada-dedee-greg-lhamon/

A few days ago, I was re-reading a chapter in my in 2016 self-published book Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering (which is no longer available for sale) and it brought this beautiful life-giving truth of the mercy seat to me afresh. I have been struggling with my new heart condition that has me some days just not wanting to get up out of bed. But God reminded me through the words He had me record about 6 years ago now, that His compassion flows for me in that place and that all I have to do is come. All I have to do is to behold His face and He will lift away my heavy burden, filling me with renewed strength, hope, faith and joy for my day.

It is just like Peter and John on the hill in Gesthemene with Jesus, who moments before were overcome with exhaustion, heavy with sleep. As they looked upon God’s glory descending in their midst they became fully awake and alert, overcome no longer with exhaustion but with the Presence of God.

And so I longed to share these old words from my book with you too. May God’s encouragement to me bless you too, as it has me afresh, leading you, just like me, to come boldly to sit on that mercy seat – in the arms of Jesus – in your time of need today.

Oh may we all behold the glory of God descending in our midst, waking us up to His love, His power and His incredible mercy for us each day anew. May God open our hearts to listen, not to the words of our accuser pushing us little children who are so in need of our Heavenly Papa away, but to Jesus, our mercy seat (Matthew 19:14, NIV):

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Never forget what our Abba Father told the disciples about this Jesus and His Word of mercy (Luke 9:35, AMP):

“This is My beloved Son, My Chosen One; listen and obey and yield to Him!”

BEHOLD

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity, with our large family (my parents had six children), usually spread out between the South and North Island of New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands congregating in one city. It was a wonderful week together, but my heart, mind and soul is also yearning for rest.

This morning, I successfully stepped out of bed without waking my youngest and have been able to read, sit, reflect and wonder at God’s creation. We are currently staying in one of the most beautiful places in the world with my little sister, surrounded by majestic mountains. And yet, my mind has been in overdrive, blinded to that which lies before me.

This morning I read further in A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy and it reminded me of my experience, when God’s powerful Presence broke open my heart, as I surveyed His creation in utter wonder. It was as if the mountains, lake and skies oozed His Presence and as if they enveloped me in Love.

Psalm 143: 4 – 6 (The Message)

I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
    my heart heavy, like lead.
I remembered the old days,
    went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,
Stretched out my hands to you,
    as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.

That’s why if someone were to ask me why I believe what I do, I cannot tell them by talking in terms of the intellect because for me all human reasoning cannot fully fathom the God who has been revealing Himself to me. Just as A. W. Tozer shares in Knowledge of the Holy (Reformed Church Publications, 2013), p. 17:

“We think more loftily of God,” says Michael de Molinos, “by knowing that He is incomprehensible, and above our understanding, than by conceiving Him under any image, and creative beauty, according to our rude understanding.”

It is when I still to look for Him, that I see Him everywhere and in seeing Him everywhere, both my heart and mind open in wonder. The thoughts that had clouded my mind moments ago, dissipate. The ache that had been numbed into oblivion, rises. And thus I join Anselm in his prayer (Knowledge of the Holy, Reformed Church Publications, 2013, p. 18):

“Let me seek Thee in longing,” pleaded Anselm, “let me long for thee in seeking; let me find thee in love, and love thee in finding.”

as my heart begins to yearn after that which my mind cannot decipher, a God who is (Knowledge of the Holy, Reformed Church Publications, 2013, p. 10):

Darkness to the intellect                 

But sunshine to the heart.

Yes, it is good to seek Him with our intellect, to study Him with our minds, but that study can only stretch so far. Our incomprehensible, majestic, holy God is beyond all human fathoming.

And for me, that thought stirs a knee-bending wonder, eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart full of yearning.

Jeremiah 23: 23-24 (The Message)

“Am I not a God near at hand”—God’s Decree—
    “and not a God far off?
Can anyone hide out in a corner
    where I can’t see him?”
        God’s Decree.
“Am I not present everywhere,
    whether seen or unseen?”
        God’s Decree.

Oh yes! Our God will hold us fast, using what the enemy sent to harm us to remind us of the power of the Cross. The power of our Savior’s blood flowing for us to daily lift the weight of our sin and pain and renew our strength that we too might take up our Cross and follow Jesus into abundant life and power perfected in weakness.

Every morning afresh, our King of Kings is meeting me in my weakness, proving Himself as the strength of my heart, as I come to Him just as I am.

He is showing me that He knows me, sees me and loves me and rather than withdrawing His Presence from me when I fall into sin in my weakness, He is the God who draws near to me in that moment. Not just to free me from my sin, but to shower me in grace gifts throughout the day just to remind me He hasn’t left me.

So that next time that same temptation to sin comes calling, I will remember I am not alone and can call on God’s strength to arise and shine in the light of Christ’s love for me. God is proving to me afresh that my weakness is not a punishment, but a gift sent to draw me ever deeper into His love and mercy for me and for all.

Be encouraged with me today: our cold stone heart, bound by sin and pain has been rolled away. For, we now have the life breath and soft heart of Jesus available to us and that Jesus has delivered us – the mercy seat proves it to us daily. Oh let us come boldly before the throne of grace in our time of need.

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