Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We think we need a lot of things, but only one is going to make any difference.

YOU NEED MERCY


Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.  Luke 6:36

YOU need mercy!  It's the reason the Lord's people gather in the Lord's house on the Lord's day:  so that they might obtain the mercy needed to go on another day, so that they might call on the giver of all good gifts to continue to supply them with all they need to support this body and life.  For none of these comes from nature, or the planet, or the ingenuity of man but from the Father of all mercies, and God of all comfort.

You need mercy!  You need the gift of spiritual enlightenment so that you can see the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for what it truly is: not a piece of jewelry, not a good luck charm for baseball players at the plate, but the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.  It is life, peace, gladness for the heart, and relief from the fear of condemnation that sin always brings in its wake.

As the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed you from your parents' sin in holy baptism, even so he continues to wash you clean of the many transgressions you commit in thought, word and deed each day; those you yourself perpetrate, but also those perpetrated against you by others, whose sorrow and shame infect you, torment you, and rob you of peace day and night.

You need mercy; the mercy of God the Holy Spirit so that you can remain in the one true faith; so that you, the disciple, can become like Jesus, the Master, a goal you should strive for more and more each day.  It is a daily struggle and you dare never let down your guard because "misery loves company;"  because there is nothing the culture wants more than for you to join its deadly party, to share its irrational beliefs, to confess its twisted values, to partake of its poisonous pleasures, and only the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, is able to shield you from the world's relentless assaults against your salvation and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

You need mercy because you have self-righteously judged others and thereby made yourself liable to judgment.  You have mercilessly condemned the people who have not lived up to the standard that you, in your fatal pride, have set for them, and thereby have made yourself liable for condemnation.

You need mercy.  Until you fully believe that, until you comprehend that all you have, all you are, all you desire, and all you might ever hope for, proceeds from Christ who IS the mercy of God, nothing else matters: not the church, her doctrine, her worship, her wisdom, her ethics, her soul-soothing hymns, or her life-giving sacraments.  They mean nothing until you realize that you need mercy.

You need mercy!  And God be praised, you have mercy!

You have NOT man's mercy which is no more durable than a Cracker Jack toy; neither the government's tender mercies.  They want only to own you, strip you of your dignity, demolish your self-worth, and shackle you with economic chains stronger than steel.  Nor do you have the mercy the culture offers to bestow upon you if you will worship at its altar and conform your life to its twisted dictates, or suffer its wrath.

No!  The mercy you need, and the mercy that is granted to you, is God's mercy in Christ; the loving kindness that God displayed when He gave over His Son into the hands of heartless, jealous and greedy men to do with Him what they would, to crucify the Lord of Glory, but what they meant for evil, God meant for good, so that we might obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.

This is the mercy He extends to the humble, to those who will stop in their mental tracks long enough to hear the whole counsel of God:  the hammer of the law that condemns our sins and the new song of the gospel that heals the sin sick soul.  Things are as the Psalm says, "For though the LORD is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar."  (138:6)

You need mercy, and you have mercy, because only mercy will keep you in the one, true faith unto eternal life.  Only mercy will give you the resurrection from the dead.  Only divine compassion will enable you to endure the crosses of life with composure.  Only mercy will cross the Jordan with you, into the Promised Land of heaven.

You need mercy.  You have mercy.  Now hear the word of the Lord:  Be merciful!  You must now become a mercy giver.  How that will happen in each case is not rocket science because charity begins at home and works its way out as able.  Like your cell phone that is always pinging out for a wifi connection, even so mercy is always in search for the opportunity to give what has so richly been given.

We observed a towering example of mercy in Charleston, South Carolina last week when a family member of each of nine who were slain at the AME church, were given the opportunity to speak to the court.

Nine people; nine sorely aggrieved, deeply bereaved Christians, each of whom received God's mercy in his own life through Christ's death on the cross, each of whom believed the Word of God in today's epistle lesson that says, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,"  each of whom then offered his own forgiveness to the seething mass-murderer who could not sleep  at night unless he had first shed innocent blood.  They not only  freely forgave, but openly prayed that he should repent before God, believe the sacrifice of Christ for remission, and so receive such mercy that he might be pardoned of all his sins and share eternity in glory with those whom he so wickedly put to death.

That is what Jesus means when He says:  Be merciful, therefore, even as your Father is merciful.  It was an example so shining that the world had apoplexy!  The culture, that neither knows nor believes in God's eternal mercy in Christ, was appalled, scandalized and outraged, but every Christian who has received mercy, along with the angels of heaven, rejoiced with a great joy.

You need mercy.  You have mercy.  Now give mercy.  Amen

~Rev. Dean Kavouras




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