Tuesday, February 5, 2019

His Mercy Endures Forever!

by Michael C. Garrett

Well, there’s one state of mind, or an experience, that I deeply ponder, I deeply appreciate. It’s the act of receiving mercy and the act of bestowing mercy. This divine act of forgiveness, graciousness, and love. And all of us have sinned. All. And if you ever meet someone who says they haven’t, just back-off real quick! And we’ve all fallen far short of the glory of God in our lives. We have had corrupt thoughts, we have spoken corrupt words, we have engaged in corrupt actions. And apart from God’s help and assistance we are indeed to make these mistakes over, and over, and over until we die. And yet at some magical, marvelous, miraculous, moment of mercy, God the Father and Jesus Christ looked down upon our pitiful existences and They decided to pour out mercy upon us. They decided to call us, and to choose and select us. They guided and directed us, so that we would begin to be exposed and begin to understand the Truth of God, the Word of God, and the Plan of God. They granted to us the gift of repentance, and we began to see just how corrupt we really were, and how much we need Their help. And They granted to us the gift of baptism, and They assured us – all of the sins that we’ve ever committed in the past were left at the bottom of that pool. And as we came up out of that pool and water, one of the ministers of God, or more than one, prayed over us and they laid their hands upon our heads, and in that process God granted to us the gift of His Holy Spirit. And we knew, with assurance, that our name’s – at that very moment – were being inscribed into the Book of Life! And the doors of eternal salvation and life were being thrown wide open to us, doors through which we are destined to walk through if we will simply continue the walk.
And as newly begotten members of the Family of God we receive the knowledge and the assurance that God the Father was indeed our Heavenly Father. And that Jesus Christ was indeed our personal living Savior, our Elder Brother, the Captain of our salvation, and our merciful and loving High Priest.

If you would, quickly turn to the Book of Hebrews, and Paul – I think it was Paul which wrote the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 2, verse 6 – quoting from the Old Testament – “…’What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7) You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 8) You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him [referring to human beings]. 9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 10) For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory, to make the Captain of their sufferings.” He goes on to say, Verse 11 - “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren [brothers and sisters].”
He goes on to say over in Verse 17 – “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in all things pertaining to God, to make [reconciliation] for the sins of the people. 18) For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Chapter 3, verse 1 – “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our [profession], Christ Jesus.”

And, in chapter 4, verse 14 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our [profession, our commitment to this faith]. 15) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - and there are so many other descriptions like this of Jesus Christ in the Book of Hebrews.
Well, being that we have this great loving and merciful High Priest Jesus Christ, the living Lamb of God, we have no need for a human priest, or human representatives, through which we must go in order to commune with God.

And that’s a real shocker to people – like that fellow Mark was talking to – the man with the collar and the robe. Who believes that you need him, to go through and get to God. And it’s such a refreshment to me to know that at any time, any place, and at any moment I have instant access to God – and so do you! We don’t have to go to a priest. We don’t need that! We can go straight to God! That’s so wonderful! Truly, we have an AWESOME God, as the popular song from a few years ago says, “And truly we have a loving and a merciful God.”
The Bible speaks often about God’s mercy! And no place is it more eloquent and beautiful than in the Book of Psalms. If you would, turn to Psalms 100. We could literally spend the whole day reading Psalms, about the greatness of God and His mercy. Verse 1 – “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2) Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3) Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4) Enter into His gates with THANKSGIVING, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5) For the LORD is good; HIS MERCY IS EVERLASTING, And His truth endures to all generations.”

Psalms 103 – another beautiful passage – “Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” – there’s a song, written by Bill Gaither, that has those very words in it! Verse 2 – “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3) Who forgives all your iniquities, 4) Who heals all your diseases.” And, it goes on to say in Verse 8 – “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” – and who among us would want it any differently!? Because as for me – one of the things I find myself continually saying to God, “Thank You for your patience with me. Thank You that you are slow to anger. Thank You that You are not wrathful, that You are not intemperate and just fly off the handle. Thank You for Your mercy.” Verse 9 – “He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.” – no, there’s a future date – called the Day of the Lord! When He unleashes His anger upon this defiant and disobedient Earth! And literally as they say, all hell will break loose! But we’re not there – yet. Verse 11 – “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him [and love Him and respect Him]; 12) As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
If you took a laser light and pointed it in one direction, and the opposite way you pointed another, those laser lights would NEVER cross. They would go out forever and never would they meet! And that is the distance that God has placed with us and our past, and our sins, totally and completely removing them! Verse 13 – “As a father pities his children [or cares deeply for them], So the LORD pities those who fear Him.” And, I love this next phrase, I love this expression – Verse 14 – “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are [but] dust.” – have you ever done something really stupid!? Don’t raise your hand. We all have.  And ask the question: Why did I do that!? Why did I say it, why did I think it, why did I actually participate in it!? And then you go: How can God ever look upon me with favor!? And, realize that the God that looks upon us is the One who literally molded us and shaped us out of red clay! And breathed into our foreparents the breath of life! He knows our frame, He knows we are but dust. And therefore He is patient – and thanks be to God that He is. Verse 15 – “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16) For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.” – now there are a lot of places up there in Kentucky and Tennessee are looking like that right now. The wind has blown upon them, and they have just simply dried up. Verse 17 – “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children [He remembers and He respects generation after generation].” – and every time I come to Tyler I think about the fact that  - there’s a box in Mark’s home that has the name Herbert W. Armstrong, and then it has Garner Ted Armstrong, and Mark Allen Armstrong, and then it has Michael Allen Armstrong. And I think about the fact that, yes, God has been merciful to many generations and will continue to extend that mercy. And I appreciate that so much! Verse 18 – “To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments TO DO THEM.”  - so there is a stipulation, there is a condition!

Psalm 107, verse 1 – “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, For He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Psalm 118, verse 1 – “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” – and the end of that psalm says the very same thing!

And then, in Psalm 136, there are twenty-six verses, and every verse has this refrain in it – “For His mercy endures forever; His mercy endures forever; His mercy endures forever!” Twenty-six times in one psalm! It’s something to contemplate and think about, and I think every-so-often we need to consider – well, as I say here -  sometimes I wonder if we, members of the Church of God, if we do truly take time out of our often busy and hectic schedules, and properly ponder the mercy, the graciousness, and the love that God has poured out upon us!? I just think everyday we should do that! Everyday we should be reminded, to remind ourselves, that our past was thrown away and God has granted us a whole new future! His mercy, over and over – and when I dwell upon the number of times, and the various ways, that God has intervened in my life, or He’s answered my prayers, or He’s protected me from those people, and forces, that have wanted to harm me, I am truly staggered and often I am overwhelmed! Receiving mercy is an emotional moment!
And, we – and I guess this is the whole KEY to the whole sermon – who are recipients of mercy and have been, we in turn are to be GIVERS, or bestowers of mercy upon others in our lives with which we must deal. And that also can be an extremely emotional moment, is to simply FORGIVE SOMEONE. To simply ignore the stupid comment that someone has made at the ungracious way in which they have dealt with you. To simply apply mercy to it.

You know, Jesus Christ had a lot to say about mercy and the merciful. You’ve all read Matthew chapter 5, verse 7 – “’Blessed are the merciful, For they shall [receive] mercy.’” – what’s the other side of that coin!? Cursed, are the unmerciful. Because they will not receive mercy. And, James says that, in James chapter 2, verse 13. He says, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. …” – if the giving of mercy is not a part of your life, you are in deep, deep, trouble!
If you would, turn to Luke chapter 6, verse 27 – “’But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, …’” – and I have commented to you before, it’s such a difficult concept for us. It is not within our human nature to do that – is it!? It is a truly, truly, difficult thing. At least for me. And, probably for many of you. Verse 28 – “’bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’” – and if you go down to Verse 30 – “’Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.’"

Verse 31 – “’And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.’” – now, that’s almost worthy of calling it golden or something – isn’t it!? Maybe call that the “Golden Rule”!? Verse 32 – “’But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? [what have you done; what have you accomplished!?] For even sinners love those who love them.’” – I guess partners in crime love one another!? Verse 33 – “’And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34) And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.’” – and probably more with interest. Verse 35 – “’But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be [the children] of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.’Verse 37 – “’Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’” – the words from the Sermon on the Mount! Basic Christianity 101. And yet, how many of us have mastered the first semester!? Or the first week of the course!? We all have room to go.

Forgiveness is a form of mercy. And being forgiven by someone, or being forgiven of something that you have done, is the receiving of mercy. And forgiving someone else is the bestowing or the giving of mercy.

Matthew chapter 6 has some more to say about this from Jesus Christ. Verse 9 – “’In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed [sacred] be Your name. 10) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in Heaven. 11) Give us this day our daily bread. 12) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive us our debtors.

13) And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14) For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15) But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’” – forgiveness is mercy. God has shown you mercy, He’s shown me mercy, and we are required to show mercy upon others. Which means at times we’re required to forgive. And we’re supposed to forgive. Yet, I ask the question – I’ve heard many people debate this and I’ve heard people yammer about it and carry on about it – when Jesus admonitions us to forgive our debtors and for those who trespasses against us, does that mean instant blanket forgiveness!? I think all of you have seen scenes on television – like a horrible school shooting, or something – and there’s a young person full of life and just cut short by some crazed maniac murderer. And the people with the microphone stick it in front of the face, and they always get a religious type that get very self-righteous and go, “I-I forgive him.” Now, my question: Is that what God expects of us -  to just blanket instant forgiveness!? For everything!? Just like it never happened!? Well, if some evil-doer kidnaps and harms your child, are you just going to instantly forgive him!? If someone attacks or assaults your wife, are you gonna forgive them – instantly!? Or, they break into your house and shoot you, shoot you in the knee, in the arm!? What if they burn down your house!? What if they intentionally torture and kill your family pet!? What if they make up stories and spread them far and wide, fallacious lies!? Or, anything else that’s evil!? Are we to instantly and completely totally forgive them!? Is that what Jesus demands of us!? Well, if you would, please turn to Luke 17.
There’s a part of this equation that sometimes people forget. These are also the Words of Jesus Christ – and it’s very plain what He’s saying – Verse 1 – “Then He said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2) It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones [a new Church member].’” – I’ve been in discussions with Church members that have been around for forty-years – you’ve probably had this happen to you – and you say something that they object to and they puff up in self-righteousness and they’ll go, “That offends me!”

Ever had that happen to you, raise your hands. And I just laugh – when a forty-year veteran of the Church of God says, “That offends me!” I don’t believe it. I think many of you, like I, we’ve been around for generations, or decades, and we’ve just about seen everything. There’s really not much that can offend me anymore. I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it. I’ve heard about it. But for the little ones, the new ones, now that’s a different story. That’s like hurting a little puppy dog, a little kitty. You don’t do that! That’s like hurting a little child. You don’t do that! And you don’t hurt a little one, a new Church member. You just don’t do that! But then He goes on to say, Verse 3 – “’Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, REBUKE HIM; …’” – and this next part, I think, is the key. “…’and if he repents, forgive him.’” – that’s the key! Well, does God dispense instant blanket forgiveness for all sins!? At all times!? By all people!? And the answer, very obviously is, no. There are conditions to God’s forgiveness. We can read in Acts chapter 2, where Peter stood up and said, ‘Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of God’s Spirit.’ But the first part – the qualifier was – repent. Again, Peter said in Acts chapter 3, verse 19 – “Repent therefore and be converted [changed], that your sins may be blotted out, …” – John wrote in 1st John chapter 1, verse 9 – “If we confess our sins, [Jesus Christ] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – God does not dispense instant blanket forgiveness. And I do not believe that He expects, or requires of us, to dispense instant unconditional blanket forgiveness. However, I do believe, that God expects us always to be willing, ready, and able to forgive. And if possible, I believe God expects us to help our brother change, and at the very least we are not to be a stumbling block to his change. And, sometimes people have made mistakes and others will not simply ALLOW them to sort-of get into a repentful mind, they keep driving them away! And so the problem never gets solved. And for the stumbling block, I don’t think it’s a very good piece of information to have on your résumé when you come before Jesus Christ! Well, if you would, turn to Matthew 18.
There’s a story that you’ve all heard, and when I began thinking about this sermon, I thought: this is an example of a guy who was forgiven, he received mercy, and then he turned around and he could not give mercy to others.

Matthew chapter 18, verse 21 – “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ 22) Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” – and some translation commentaries imply it’s seventy times seventy! Which is four thousand nine hundred! Obviously the idea being there’s no limit on forgiveness, as long as your brother comes back to you and is truly wanting to amend the hurt. And then this is the story that He went into – Verse 23 – “’Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24) And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.’” – my margin says it’s an amount equal to three billion, eight hundred forty million! Now, I don’t know if my margin writer was correct, but this is a huge sum of money! Verse 25 – “’But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26) The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27) Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28) But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii [and my margin says, thirty-two hundred dollars]; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29) So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30) And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31) So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master [the top man] all that he had done. 32) Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33) Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34) And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.’” – and Jesus ends the parable with this – Verse 35 – “’So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.’
So, we’ve got to be willing, ready, and able to forgive and make amends when that opportunity presents itself. We have been given mercy, we are in turn to bestow mercy upon others. If we have the opportunity.

Well, there was another story given to us by Jesus Christ. You’ve probably heard it since you were maybe in Sunday School, way back in another era of your life. You’ve heard it called the story of the “Prodigal Son,” or the story of the “Profligate Son,” – those words mean the same – or the story of the “Lost Son.” And every time you’ve heard this story, the emphasis is upon whom? It’s upon the child who screwed up – right!? That’s what everyone wants to talk about. But there’s THREE PEOPLE in this story! There’s a father, there’s an older brother, and then the younger brother. And I actually think we need to contemplate every one of these characters, these people, because there’s something to be learned. It’s in Luke 15.
And this parable is the reason I’m giving this sermon today. Because a few weeks ago I referred to this back in Owensboro. And I don’t know why – and I’m going to try real hard not to break down today – but I came very close to being overcome with emotion. Because I read this story – and I was actually reading it for a different purpose; I had a different illustration I wanted to bring out – I was trying to illustrate people who were thankful vs people who are not thankful. But I started reading this story, and I saw this father in my mind’s eye. I saw his eyes, I saw his face. I heard his voice. And I realized deep emotional involvement he had in this. And I saw those two sons, just as clear as a bell. And it became very, very real to me! And I was deeply impressed by it.

Luke chapter 15, verse 11 – and following that, I contemplated this for two or three days and thought: well, this may be the thought of mercy. The idea of mercy. Because this story is about a father who bestows mercy. It’s about a younger brother who is very unthankful, but then realizes that he needs mercy. And, it’s a story about an older brother, that was incapable of feeling merciful towards his own brother. The concept of mercy is tied up in all three of these people.
“Then He said: ‘A certain man had two sons. 12) And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me [my inheritance, give me all the money that is going to be due me. I want it now].’ So he divided to them [his wealth]. 13) And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country and there wasted his possessions with [riotous] living.’” – for some reason, I see somebody moving off to Los Vegas! Wine, women, song, gambling - every little spice of life one could get into is right there.

14) But when he had spent all, [he wasted everything!] there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began  to be in want.’” – didn’t have food. Didn’t have a place to live. Didn’t have adequate clean clothing anymore. Verse 15 – “’Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.’” – he became a farm worker. Verse 16 – “’And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the [husk] that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 17) But when he came to himself, …’” – I love that expression. ‘When he came to himself.’ When He finally figured out just how bad he had screwed up his life – ‘when he came to himself.’ We would call that repentance. He finally began to understand just how corrupt and miserable he really was, and how badly he needed his father’s help. “…’he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger!’” – he said, ‘the servants of my father have it better than I do now!’ And he said, Verse 18 – “’I will arise and go to my father [as you say, with hat in hand], and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19) and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’” – ‘forget that we even share the same bloodline, just hire me on as a worker!’ Verse 20 – “’And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him …’” – and it makes you wonder just how many times that father had stood on that hill looking out, hoping to see this! And he never had. And, what was nothing but a dream, became real. That was his son straggling down the roadway. “…’his father saw him and had compassion [had mercy], and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him [rejoicing!]. 21) And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22) But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best [clothing] …’” – ‘the best jewelry, bring forth the very best food we’re going to have a feast!’ Verse 23 – “’And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; …’” – for he said, Verse 24 – “’for this my son was dead and is alive again; …’” – ‘I thought I would never see him again, but now here he is!’ ‘I’m holding him, I’m looking upon him! I have my son back!’ “…’And they began to be merry.’
And then we switch to the other part of the story.

Verse 25 – “’Now his older son was in the field. …’  - like a dutiful son, doing what he was supposed to do. “’And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.’” – probably smelled the barbecue!? Verse 26 – “’So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27) And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’” – wouldn’t you think the older brother, too, would share the same emotion - ‘My little dumb brother finally figured it out and has come home!’ - and rejoiced!? But no. He can’t do that. He can’t find that within him. Verse 28 – “’But he was angry and would not go in. …’” – he goes off and pouts like a little child. “’Therefore his father came out …’” – and even loving his older son looks for him, and finds him pouting – probably the same way when he was at seven-years old, maybe sucking his thumb with his little blanket!? “’and pleaded with him. 29) So he answered and said to his father, …’” – this son, the son who has it all, and he’s never lost it – he always had the nice home, the clothes, everything, the food, a good job, a future. Even after his father dies, he’ll be well provided for. All his son can say is, “’Lo, these many years I have been serving you; …’” – ‘and I didn’t transgress, I didn’t go off to Los Vegas and blow the family wealth!’ “…’and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.’” – he’s pouting! Now, do you believe the father never had a banquet for that child!? I bet the father did. Every birthday, every chance he got! But all the child could do was pout. Children pout, they just think about the worst. And the child is pouting, and the father says to him in Verse 31 – “…’Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.’” – ‘it always has been and always will be!’ Verse 32 – “’It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” – you know, just a few paragraphs before we have the parable about ‘what man of you, having a hundred sheep, and one goes astray.’ That the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine and go out and venture just to find the one lost sheep. A chance to save him! And that’s what God the Father and Jesus Christ have done with us!! They found us out there in the rocks or in the swine trough, rooting with the hogs trying to get our food. And They had mercy upon us. And we in turn are to have mercy upon others.
There are some powerful statements the Bible makes. Micah chapter 6, verse 8 – you’ve probably heard this. Joe Lieberman quoted this very statement the day he came out to the news media, when he was picked by Al Gore to be his vice-presidential running mate – now, eighteen years ago. He was the first Jewish man to ever have that honor. And he quoted Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good [referring to God]; And what does the LORD require of you …” – and he lists three things – “…But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” And Jesus says virtually the same thing in Matthew chapter 23, verse 23 – He talks about, “…’the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.’” – He said, ‘You know, we’ve got these bean counters up there, their tithing of all these little seeds,’ He said, ‘Yeah, you do that, but you forget the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith.’ I think about the fact that even today there are individuals who get hung-up on weird little doctrines, and they forget the weightier matters of the law – judgment, mercy, and faith, to walk humbly with God.

Mercy is an essential component to our spiritual life and of our spiritual health. Deeply appreciate and respect the mercy that God has bestowed upon you! And in turn, when the opportunity opens itself, bestow mercy upon others!
I’ve talked about spiritual health, or spiritual diseases. I’ve talked about self-righteousness, and how Jesus said, ‘those which trust in themselves and despise others.’ And then I talked about bitterness and I talked about the sin of ingratitude, and the last time I was here, I talked about murmuring and complaining. And I guess we could actually call this message “Part 5” in that series. Because I came to realize that if you have no mercy within you, and if you do not appreciate the mercy God has given to you, you will be self-righteous, you will trust only in yourself, and you will despise others. And, if you have no sense of mercy within you, and the fact that God has shown you mercy, and that you are to show others mercy, you will become bitter and shrivel up like a prune. And if you have no gratitude within you, if you do not appreciate or respect the mercy that God has shown you, then you in turn, you will not be thankful. And, if you’re filled with all of this – this lack of mercy and thanksgiving – you will do nothing but whine and murmur and complain. And so mercy becomes a vital ingredient to all of this!

In the first part of this, I stated that there are those who would probably  - those reading this – who might have a wide range of emotions ranging from happiness and joy and peace and love, and maybe to deep sorrow and excruciating pain, abject loneliness and deep dark despair. And I will say to you: If you are in the category where you have happiness, joy, peace, and love, BE THANKFUL TO GOD! That He’s allowed you to have mercy and to have these components to be a part of your life! And, to every chance you get, to extend mercy to others. And, if you’re in that bottom category where you’re in the bottom of the valley and it feels as though the world is about to cave in on you, please remember two Scriptures. Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 to 30, Jesus said, “’Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29) Take My yoke upon you and learn [of]Me [learn of the life and Message of Jesus Christ!], for I AM gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’” – and then, remember the words we read earlier from the apostle Paul, from Hebrews chapter 4, verse 15 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, …” – which means Jesus Christ can indeed feel our weaknesses. Unlike a former president, He truly feels your pain, He realizes your pain. He realizes that you are but dust. Because He was tempted in all points like as we, yet He without sin. And then he goes on to say, Verse 16 – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Let us all remember those words back in Psalms. ‘Give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good, because His mercy ENDURES FOREVER!’  - and so should ours.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be sure to leave a comment and tell us what you think.