Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Gift of Mercy

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Gift of Mercy Submitted by Kay Crumley

God’s mercy is something we pray for because we need it. So, what is mercy?  We often ask for mercy and grace.  Grace is the undeserved favor from God.  The dictionary definition of mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. Biblically mercy is giving forgiveness or withholding punishment.  God demonstrates His grace to us by showing His favor to us when we have done absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it. Then, because of His grace He has mercy on us by withholding the judgement we deserve.  In His loving kindness and compassion, He forgives us.  Our sins, transgressions, are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus who gave His life so we might have relationship with God the Father.   

I have selected passages from the Old Testament and for the New Testament to study showing the mercy we have from our loving God. 

Lamentations is a book written, probably by Jeremiah, after the fall of Jerusalem expressing deep grief over the destruction of their home.  The words in this book express anguish over a broken and fallen world.  It is not light reading and will do little to lighten your mood.  However, we see in Chapter 3 a conclusion the author has reached that does lead to hope.  The despair of the people is shown in the first verses.  Then, it’s as if he has come to a new realization of who God is as he states that his soul is downcast but there is hope.  He then gives the reason of that hope. 

Lamentations 3 

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 

    for his compassions never fail. 

23 They are new every morning; 

    great is your faithfulness. 

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; 

    therefore I will wait for him.” 

God had punished the people of Israel because of their disobedience, yet they were not destroyed or consumed. That is only because of the Lord’s great love. The word for Lord here is Yahweh, Lord of Lords, the divine Creator of all heaven and earth. He is our creator and protector.  He does judge His people but because of His love, He has everlasting compassion. Parents must set boundaries for their children and there are consequences for crossing those boundaries. But they never stop loving that child even when they rebel. God loves His children in that way as well. His compassions, concerns for our sufferings, never fail. God loves His children so deeply that He suffers with us. He is faithful every day, He never tires of showing compassion to us. Because we understand His Divine character, we know his will meet all our needs in His time.  As a result, we can wait on Him who is faithful to His promises. That is how we can be secure even in the midst of trials and disappointment.  His love is never ending. He doesn’t always meet our desires, but He always hears our cries for help and answers. We are to wait on Him and trust His faithfulness to us.  

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus because of some false teaching that had arisen in the church on the island of Crete.  Paul was concerned learned that some of the Jewish believers was trying to introduce Jewish law into the church including circumcision and what foods they were to eat.  Those practices did nothing toward leading the believers to live righteous lives.  The people were instructed to give up the old sinful lifestyle and follow the teaching of Paul and the apostles to live in a way that reflects Jesus’ character.  That will allow them to become mature followers who understand the important changes that must be made from the former life to the new creations we become when the Holy Spirit lives in us.  They are to live according to the Gospel message being taught rather than being enslaved to the sinfulness of their former lives. 

Now he reminds them why following rules is no longer necessary. Jesus, our Savior, changed the game for everyone.  The laws of Moses that had burdened the people for hundreds of years were no longer necessary. Jesus provides salvation through grace. 

Titus 3 

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  

In His loving kindness God sent Jesus to be the Savior who takes our sin on Himself so that He can have mercy on us. Mercy, that gift of forgiveness and withholding of punishment, is only available through Jesus Christ. We are saved through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus gives that gift generously, not in small portion but much greater than we deserve or can even imagine.  We are justified by His grace. Because of what Jesus did, paid the debt of our sin, God looks on us as having been totally forgiven from all guilt.  Just as we had never sinned. That provides the way for us to be children of God.  We are adopted into the family of God and have become brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are given unmerited favor, grace, from God and the gift of grace, absolution of all guilt, mercy, through Jesus our Savior.  

As we consider these gifts, please take time to meditate on the privilege we have to be called His. There is nothing that can surpass the blessing of these gifts. Just maybe, we can gain a fresh perspective of the meaning of Christmas. Regardless of our circumstances, we have all we need because of His grace & mercy. 

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