Community Bible Chapel Podcast
4/7/19 Ministry of Mercy
When you think of God, what is the attribute you think most highly of?
-For many, it’s His power or sovereignty.
-Some think of God’s justice and wrath.
-For some, it’s His creativity and faithfulness.
-For others, it’s His grace and love.
-But most of us don’t think of God’s mercy in the list of God’s character.
We read through the OT and struggle to see mercy being revealed from God.
-And in the NT God’s mercy is overshadowed by His love and grace.
Paul in writing to Timothy made sure to include God’s mercy in I Timothy 1:2
“To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Or in Eph. 2:4, Paul describes God as “rich in mercy”
-Certainly, mercy is an outstanding attribute of God that we would do well to recognize as we read through the Bible as well as when it is revealed in our lives day to day.
Webster = compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Biblical definition = Not giving the punishment that is deserved.
-In other words – when I’m doing 60 in a 40 and I see the flashing red lights come up behind me, I’m deserving of a ticket.
-But if the police officer lets me off with a warning, he has shown me mercy.
-I did not get the punishment I deserved.
So, let’s dig in and look at the richness of God’s mercy.
I’m going to begin in the OT and see the God of mercy because many will tell me that the OT God is a different God from the NT.
-I disagree for the mercy of God is very evident in the OT.
-Now, having said that, within the context of the progressive revelation of God, He used the OT history so we might recognize our need for His mercy that is fully revealed in the NT.
-So, yes, I agree that we see much of God’s justice in the OT, but it is not in a vacuum – separated from the richness of His mercy.
-After Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit, God showed mercy on them by leaving them alive.
-They were banished from the garden and would have to work hard for their food, but God allowed them to continue.
-We might wonder why God didn’t destroy the serpent at that time?
-But if God destroyed the serpent for his rebellion, He would have also had to destroy Adam for his rebellion.
-But God met the rebellion with His mercy because He is merciful.
-I would also add that somehow Satan fits into God’s Glory that we won’t fully understand until after the final events of history and the unveiling of God’s plan in eternity.
Exodus 34:6 – God’s Mercy at the start of Israel. (turn there)
-When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God agreed to allow Moses to see part of it.
“And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD the LORD, the compassionate (merciful in ESV, ASV, NKJV) and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
-This is one of those highlighter verses.
-This is God describing Himself to Moses and to us.
-And take notice that mercy is first on the list that we tend to place further down in our thinking.
-Now, we might question God’s mercy because we value fairness highly.
-Was Israel more righteous than all the other Nations around them?
-In our pride, we would question what Israel did that caused God to be merciful toward them.
-But if Israel did something to deserve God’s mercy, it would steal from the riches of God’s mercy.
-Israel did absolutely nothing to earn God’s mercy or it wouldn’t be mercy.
-God bestowed His mercy on Israel, for His glory to be revealed.
-Does that mean that God was unfair to the other Nations?
-No, He treated them justly and they received the punishment they deserved.
-He just treated Israel with mercy as He made clear to Moses in
Ex. 33:19 “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy . . .”
-Because He is the creator, He is right to do that.
-That is fully within His character to give or withhold mercy.
-Although, He is slow to anger, sometimes waiting hundreds of years for people or nations to turn to Him in repentance before He punishes the guilty.
-And aren’t you glad that God is patient with you when you sin?
Psalms – God’s Mercy In the Middle of Israel’s history
-One hundred and sixteen times through the Psalms we see
God’s mercy being spoken of, asked for, and trusted in.
-Ps. 41:4 “Lord, have mercy on me; Heal me, for I have sinned against You.”
-Just confessing sin and falling on God’s mercy.
-I wonder how God would have responded had Adam done that?
-Ps. 56:1 NKJ “Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me.”
-The Psalmist relies on God’s mercy because it’s consistent.
-The mercy of humanity can’t be trusted or relied upon.
-It’s not fair – it’s not just treatment – plays favorites, inconsistent.
-Ps. 119:58 “I entreated Your favor with my whole heart;
Be merciful to me according to Your word.”
-He’s not boasting of how he deserves mercy, but he reads God’s Word and see’s God’s mercy displayed and cries out:
“Yea, like that – God please treat me like that!
Not like what I deserve, but like that!”
Jeremiah – God’s mercy at the end of Israel’s history
-As Israel fell into moral chaos (much like our present day), the
Babylonians conquered Israel and destroyed Jerusalem.
-Lamentations 4 describes the blackest of times when woman
Boiled their own babies to survive.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions (MERCY) never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
-What I love about this passage is that in the midst of total darkness, a light shines through the faith of the prophet of God.
-What ignites his faith?
-The mercy of God.
-Yes, the circumstance is terrible, but his focus turns toward the God who has revealed himself through history as the God of mercy.
-And at a time when God’s people are most vulnerable to abandon all hope, the prophet turns their attention toward the riches of God’s mercy.
-They are never ceasing and new every day.
-That’s a faith that is undaunted by the circumstances of the day.
-That’s the kind of faith that develops day by day, as we live in relationship with the God of mercy.
-That’s the kind of faith that I want to be growing in!
It’s a mercy that is fully realized in the. . .Gospels – God’s Mercy in Jesus
-In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, not just to give us mercy, but to embody it.
-Where in the OT, mercy was a bud, is now in full bloom in Christ.
-God’s people had a long history of witnessing God’s mercy, cried for mercy more than anything else from Jesus.
-All through the Gospels we read “Lord, have mercy on me.”
-That’s God’s people, not questioning, but knowing their God is a merciful God.
Matt. 23:23 As Jesus rebuked the Pharisees.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
-Sandwiched between “justice”, which they were very good at, and preaching faithfulness, they missed mercy.
-They were trying to earn God’s mercy (can’t) by keeping the Law and forcing others to keep it in order to earn God’s mercy.
Jesus spoke this repeatedly in the Gospels.
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matt. 9:13
-Sinners – like you and me, need God’s mercy desperately.
-Jesus went to the cross in our place, died and rose again to pay for our sin.
-God gave Jesus what we deserve in our sin – and that is not fair!
-That isn’t fair – He is merciful.
-Thus, there is always a high cost to mercy – it cost Jesus His life.
-The word I want to use this morning is transformation.
-God’s mercy is not given so we can accept it and go on in our lives and treat others as their sin deserve.
-God’s mercy is meant to transform us into God’s mercy givers, as Jesus pointed out in Luke 6
-We read this description of how we are to love others – enemies.
-v. 38 gives us a contrast . . . . . .
-Everyone loves those that love them, but Jesus raises the bar – “but love your enemies.”
-And He lists the ways to do that so we understand the cost of mercy.
“Do good to them” – your enemies
-That’s what love is – doing what is best for the other person, no matter the cost to us.
“Lend to them without the expectation” of it being returned.
-They are your enemy – of course they aren’t going to return it.
-We give time and energy and pour into people, and they just leave.
-We give finances to people only to see them chose to use it selfishly.
-Out of hundreds of people that the church’s helping fund has helped in the years I have been here, only a couple of thank you’s!
-That’s not surprising, nor is it why we help people.
-We help others because God has helped us, for His glory.
-Mercy always has a cost, but it also has a reward.
-And as you “do good” and “lend without expectation”, “then” you will gain the reward, not from them, but from the Lord.
-That is when you will recognize that God is working in you to transform you to be like Jesus.
-The passage ends with the admonition:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
-Jesus is saying that how we respond to those people reveals what is truly in our hearts.
-Pay attention to your hearts because our self-righteousness affects how merciful we are.
-The less mercy we think we need, the less mercy we have to give.-And when we think God had to break the bank of the riches of His mercy for me, then I will have plenty to give to others.
Mercy opens the door to Gospel ministry.
In my Marriage
-Being full of mercy for our spouse opens the door to ministry to them.
-How many of you married the perfect person?
-When I recognize the sinfulness in my own heart and the mercy God has extended to me, allows me to get in next to my spouse and help them change.
-That is nothing like nagging and everything like the entirety of this passage.
-The cost of mercy is great – but the rewards are also great.
-Luke 6:27-36 is a marriage passage.
-Being full of mercy for our kids opens the door to Gospel ministry to them.
-How many of you expected that God would give you fully sanctified little children?
-Being full of mercy strips away the “I would never do that” attitude that many parents have.
-All that does is separate us from our kids.
-A merciful heart comes alongside them because we can relate to their sinful little hearts and introduce them to Jesus.
-Mercy gives us patience with all those in our house.
-The cost of mercy is great- but so are the rewards.
-Luke 6 is a parenting passage.
-Being full of mercy opens the door to Gospel ministry with our friends.
-Knowing the mercy we have received gives us patience with our fellow sinners who live outside our house.
-When you neighbor cuts down the tree that falls on your garden (car), since God has given you mercy for a whole lifetime of such things, you have mercy to spare for your neighbor.
-The cost of mercy is great – but the rewards are also.
-This becomes the test of our transformation in Christ.
-Some have turned their spouse or children into the enemy and lost sight of God’s mercy.
-But we also have enemies in our lives and in this world.
-But when we know that God had to empty the treasury of the “riches of His mercy” for us, then we can extend mercy to those who hate us.
-The cost of mercy is great – but the rewards are also.
-As you demonstrate the mercy of God, we would pray that they might put their trust in Jesus.
Since God is merciful and has flooded His mercy on us, we have full wells to dip the bucket and dump it all over the fellow sinners around us every day.