It’s All About Mercy

It’s All About Mercy

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Titus 3:5

 

Works vs. Faith has been an argument among Christians since the beginning of Christianity. Clearly the people St. Paul and St. James wrote to in their letters had issues with this argument. Paul said to them, as he did to Titus in today’s verse, that salvation comes from God’s mercy and not by their achievement. Yet, James wrote that faith without works is dead. So do our works save us, at least in part? If you’ve struggled to understand the connection of works and faith, I hope today’s devotion will help clear things up a bit.

You see, it’s all about mercy. Notice that Paul didn’t tell Titus that he didn’t have to do any righteous works because the works won’t save him. No, he phrases it differently. He tells him that God’s salvation does not come because of the righteous works Titus has done, but by His own mercy. Clearly we are called to work in the kingdom. However, like God, all our works should flow from mercy. Salvation is His gift of love to all who will believe, but His mercy flows to all whether they believe or not because God’s nature is to be merciful.

When we truly understand what God has done for us, that He saved us while we were yet in our sins, we can begin to understand that there is no way to earn such love. But, there is a way to show our gratitude for such love. We show that gratitude when let God’s mercy overflow through us to a hurting world. Then, our works are actually His works done through us and are no longer dead, but are the very heartbeat of a living faith. It’s all about mercy.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love and mercy that never lets us go. You’re always there to help us out of every temptation if we will only call upon your holy name. Amen.

 Image credit: http://www.celebrationchurchlive.com/2015/12/09/mercy/

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Could there be a greater love than to give those whom you love perfect freedom? You know, freedom to love or hate, to embrace or reject. It’s been said that love is free or it isn’t love. Love that isn’t free is really just another form of slavery. We can’t, or rather shouldn’t force people to love us, and you can be sure God doesn’t either.

Such a perfect love leaves us open to many dangers. One of those dangers is that it hurts when those we love don’t love us in return. Still, I think Lord Tennyson was right when he said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” That’s our Heavenly Father’s position. He to the risk of creating us knowing many wouldn’t love Him back – and I’m so glad He did.

But, the hurt of lost love isn’t our greatest danger. Perhaps the greatest danger we face is the power of temptation. The devil is a master of deception and can make any sinful activity look appealing. What he doesn’t show is the consequences of those sins. Let’s face it, sin can look fun or no one would want to do it. But, God doesn’t leave us with no chance of overcoming the devil’s wily schemes. He always there with a great escape.

In His great love God lets loose a flood of mercy to protect us when we’re tempted. His waves of mercy come to us as perfect escape hatches when the temptations of life are about to overwhelm us. We can rest in knowing He’s promised us a way out of every temptation. When you’re tempted, always keep a lookout for God’s escape hatches; they’re as close as the mention of His name.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love and mercy that never lets us go. You’re always there to help us out of every temptation if we will only call upon your holy name. Amen.

Image credit: http://gameswalls.com/great-escape

 

Two Things For Certain

Two Things For Certain

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Growing up I always heard there were only two things that were certain in this life – death and taxes. I guess whoever coined that phrase didn’t know the Lord God Almighty. According to scripture, the love and mercy of the Lord are everlasting. You can’t get more certain than that.

We all need people and things in our life we can count on. We need to know that when the sun comes up tomorrow, those things will still be there. Of course it’s probably true that if the sun comes up tomorrow we will still owe taxes, and we know one-day death will certainly come knocking at our door. But, above all of that, isn’t it comforting to know that no matter what happens to us, or what mistakes we make, the one thing we can count on is that God still loves us?

The tides of oceans come in and go out, but the waves of God’s mercy flow into our lives forever. His mercy never gets old or worn out. Every day His mercy is new and fresh, right there at our door ready to greet us, to walk with us throughout our day, covering us with His steadfast love. The next time you find yourself in need of mercy, or you’re feeling unloved, remember the great faithfulness of our God. He’s always faithful, even when we are not –There is nothing greater.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Loving, Merciful Father, thank you for your great faithfulness to me, even when I’m not faithful to you. Thank you for a loving me with a love that lasts forever. Amen.

Image credit: http://quotesgram.com/death-and-taxes-quotes/

 

You’re Putting Me On?

You’re Putting Me On?

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

Colossians 3:12

 

When someone’s trying to tease you there’s a common response in our English language of, “You’re putting me on”. I never really understood that expression or how it got started. It’s a way of responding as if you were saying, “you’re teasing me, right?” I guess it was meant as a literal response. In other words, if I believe what the person is teasing me about, I’m putting on to myself to believe what he/she was saying, which of course would be silly since it must seem obvious he/she is joking.

However, when God tells us to, “Put on” the qualities of His character, He’s not joking. He really does mean that you and I can live as holy, and beloved people. St. Paul lists several adjectives to describe the character God wants each of us to live out; “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”. When you hear that list you might be saying to yourself, “You’re putting me on. I could never be all of those!” Believe me, God is not putting you on. He never asks us to be anything He won’t equip us to be.

When you look at this list of qualities that seems so daunting in our humanity, remember the Father has given us the Holy Spirit so that He can empower us to be as such. If it makes it any easier for you, try and think about this great list of attributes in one word – mercy. When we choose to be merciful to others we are being compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient. It really is all about mercy. When we let God’s waves of mercy flow through us, we take on the character of God, and that’s no joke.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to be all that you want me to be in my character. Teach me to put on your holiness by being merciful to others. Amen.

Image credit: https://memegenerator.net/instance/38687386

 

Stop Building Dams

Stop Building Dams

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:13

 

As a kid I loved watching court room dramas like Perry Mason. I always thought it would be cool to grow up and be a judge. However, as I matured and began to realize how difficult and dangerous it can be to judge someone’s intentions, I changed my mind. Judgment is a two edged sword that can cut right or wrong; judge wrong, and the innocent are hurt.

Jesus never said we shouldn’t judge in this world. I know, He did say, “Judge not that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). But, He also said we are to take the speck out of our own eye before we judge another for the log we see in theirs (Luke 6). I think Jesus was telling us we better be very certain of the truth before we make a judgment of someone. It’s pretty much impossible to be certain of someone’s intentions when you don’t know their heart, and only God sees what’s in the human heart.

So, rather than judge our neighbor, why not show them mercy? Why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Certainly we still need laws, courtrooms and judges if we are to live in a civilized society, but most of us are not judges, and we don’t have all the evidence needed to know the truth of someone’s actions.

Like Jesus said in the Beatitudes, St. James tells us there is no mercy for one who has shown no mercy. And for the one who has shown no mercy, their own judgment will be harsh. I don’t know about you, but I want all the mercy I can get on my judgment day. God’s mercy flows in waves but when we judge our brother or sister wrongly, we build a dam to block it. Let’s stop building dams and let the waves of mercy flow.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Father of all mercy, help me not to be judgmental of my brother or sister and forgive me for the times I have been. Help me not to be dam that blocks the flow of your mercy. Amen.

Image credit: https://projectwarmsb.org/2013/12/16/mercy-triumphs-over-judgement/

 

Servants of Mercy

Servants of Mercy

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Matthew 5:7

 

 

As Christians, we talk a lot about grace. We’re saved by grace, and we couldn’t make it through a day without grace so it’s only natural that we think a lot about it. Brennen Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, a few years before his death said, “All is grace”; I love that thought. Grace is everything we receive from God. That means even the mercy of God is grace.

Mercy and grace are like flip sides of the same coin, though we often fail to see them that way. Not only is grace mercy, but mercy is grace. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve, and mercy is His not giving us what we do deserve, and that’s a whole lot of mercy when you consider what it is we deserve – death. St. Paul teaches us in Romans three that we’ve all sinned and that the wage of that sin is death. Isaiah 53 reminds us that we’ve all gone our own way. At our core we’re all selfish.

But, into our selfish, sinful lives Jesus comes in to save  us with waves of mercy. He brings forgiveness and love that can’t be earned. But, He doesn’t stop there. He tells us to take His mercy to the world around us. In fact, he says it’s not an option for the believer to be merciful to others. Jesus said, if we want mercy, we better show mercy, because only the merciful “shall receive mercy”.

I don’t know about you but that really hits home to me. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and not see His mercy waiting there for me; I’m not good enough for that and I’ll bet you feel the same way. So, in view of our need for mercy, let’s all be servants of His mercy to the world around us. Let’s let those waves flow through us.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Merciful Father, thank you for another day of life and the grace to live it well. Help me to be a servant of your mercy to all whom I meet. Amen.

Image credit: http://forthisverymoment.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-strength-of-mercy.html

 

The Date of Our Death

The Date of Our Death

Waves of Mercy pentecost-1024x493What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:1-2

 

Obituaries have changed a lot through the years. If you read an obituary from several decades ago, it would probably tell a story of the deceased’s life. It would start with their young life and work chronologically through many of the highlights the person lived. After reading their life story, you felt like you knew something of the person.

Today, obits have changed a lot. Newspapers once printed an obituary for free, but now they can be fairly costly and charged by the word. Many people choose to offer only a short synopsis of the person’s life, including where he or she worked and if they went to church or were members of an organization; gone is the lengthy life story of accomplishments. But one thing will never be lost from an obituary – the date of death.

When we die it’s obvious; it’s a day of marked change in our state of being. We no longer live in our flesh. We can’t keep doing the things we used to do because we’re dead to our flesh. St. Paul is telling us in verse two it’s the same with our spiritual life. IF we died to sin, how then can we continue to live in it? It just can’t be, or perhaps we weren’t really dead? Perhaps we didn’t really understand the mercy of God to give us such a new chance at real life?

The grace of God is so merciful that some people may be tempted to continue living in sin in order to enjoy His grace all the more. But, Paul makes it clear such taking of God’s grace for granted is “By no means!” acceptable. While it’s true God’s grace flows in waves of everlasting mercy, if we’re really “dead to sin”, we won’t take His mercy for granted. In mercy, God causes those who truly die to be re-born into a life that doesn’t accept sin as a way of living. Yes, we are capable of committing sin, but Paul is speaking to our intentionally choosing a life of sin.

Everyone who is truly alive in Christ has an obituary in God’s newspaper and it must have the date of our death. But, the good news of the gospel is that the date of our death is also the date of our birth, our new birth into the life of Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,

+Pastor Brad

Prayer

Lord, forgive me for ever taking your grace and mercy for granted. Through Your mercy and grace help me to live out the death of my flesh as one who is truly dead to my sin, and alive in You. Amen.

Image credit: http://sovjoy.com/the-ruthless-progression-of-sin/