Faith in Jesus

Romans 9:6-18 (NRSV)

It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.

For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” As it is written,

“I have loved Jacob,
but I have hated Esau.”

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

God has mercy. God has compassion.

God has called all of us to himself. That is mercy.

Some of us have believed the Lord. We live in the promises that God has for those who have faith. We live like Abraham, and like Rebecca. This life of having faith is how we receive God’s compassion.

When we refuse the mercy of God, then we do not receive his compassion. We harden our hearts when we refuse God’s mercy. It behooves us to believe in Jesus Christ so we can not only know mercy, but so we may know and receive compassion from God.

Lord, sometimes we hear people say that you are mean. Yet, because we believe in Jesus, we know that you have mercy and compassion for us. May our lives be filled with your compassion as our faith in Jesus grows deeper and stronger. We lift people to you who have refused your mercy. Use our lives to show your mercy to this world. May our friends and family accept your promises in Jesus Christ. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray, amen.

Here’s a Tip

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

1 John 3:18 (NLT): Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

In these devotionals, I spend a lot of time talking about big concepts: God, eternity, salvation and such. But big concepts should naturally impact small behaviors. Christians, we need to remember how our little behaviors can impact others in a very negative way.

My youngest child, who is 21, recently gave me some good examples. She’s taken a job working in a restaurant, and sometimes she waits tables.

She’s old enough to know that people don’t always leave tips, and that they are not obligated to do so. She has been a little surprised, however, at how some Christians go about not tipping.

They begin by preaching at her, usually by way of pamphlets or cards designed to help Christians feel they have discharged their obligation to evangelize. Most of these little publications are reasonably well-designed, tying the Christian message of salvation to the gift of the tip. But too often they are devoid of money—enough so that employees make running jokes about receiving them.

She brought the worst one home to me the other day. Designed to look like a “Thank You” card, inside it begins, “Thank you for your friendly service. In addition to your monetary tip, let me tell you about … .” It goes on to offer salvation under the headings, “Your Greatest Debt Paid,” “A New Life Offered” and “Taking the First Step.”

On the back of the pamphlet, there’s a tip chart, and under that, there’s a way for the customer to check a box and fill in a line showing the tip was added to a credit card rather than left on the table. This customer actually went so far as to check the box, and then entered ∅, the mathematical symbol for an empty set.

I guess we can assume he’s a good enough mathematician to calculate percentages, even without the tip chart. I say “he” because my daughter confirmed this pamphlet was on a table used by a group of men. And yes, like a lot of waiters and waitresses, she said it’s not hard to figure out who the “churchy” people are.

Christians, don’t do that kind of stuff. Those little thoughtless acts can seriously impact the way the lost perceive Christ and his church. I’m just glad that this particular customer left the empty pamphlet for a minister’s daughter, who has heard the gospel repeatedly.

If you are one of these pamphlet-wielding non-tippers, think about taking an evangelism course. It also wouldn’t hurt to develop a little empathy for people working on the bottom economic rungs, particularly right now when they take so many risks to earn so little.

Seeing as how I’ve gone to preachin’, here’s the exhortation: If you’re going to use those little cards and pamphlets, put a 20 percent tip inside. Your generosity might actually cause your table staff to read what you’ve left.

Lord, forgive us when we fail to remember others are watching, and that their relationship with you might be impacted by what they see. Amen.