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God is Merciful

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Monday, January 11, 2016, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I will Lift my Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 20:29-34 (NASB).

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

I believe this morning that the Lord Jesus is directing me to look into this subject of God’s mercy vs. how the world often defines mercy, or particularly how it defines God’s mercy.

Worldly Mercy

The way in which the world defines God’s mercy is similar in some ways to God’s true mercy, but in other ways it is not, but is a twisting of truth, a dilution or a softening of what the Bible teaches as the true mercy and grace of God.

Pope Francis and, perhaps, other church or world leaders, such as Barack Obama, right now are speaking much on the subject of mercy, in particular God’s mercy. The Pope has a new book, which is coming out tomorrow, titled “The Name of God is Mercy.” I read a news article by John L. Allen Jr in which he discussed the Pope’s new book and his views on God’s mercy, drawing, as well, on the life and ministry of a former pope, John Paul I, who died in 1978 of a heart attack, just 33 days after he took office. The implication in the news article was that, if John Paul I had not died, he might have been a lot like Pope Francis, i.e. that there are many parallels between these two men in their beliefs and practices.

But, first, let us look at what the church has been teaching on the subject of “mercy” for some time now, up to this point. I grew up in a fairly fundamental evangelical church which taught the gospel much as Jesus Christ and his NT apostles taught it. If you are familiar at all with the teachings of A. W. Tozer, you might have some idea of the teaching I was raised under. Yet, I was aware that not every church gathering was like the one I was used to. There were others who were less focused on holiness, godliness and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There were those who were more moderate in their approach to the gospel and others who were more liberal, and that hasn’t changed.

Yet, what has changed is the evangelical church, i.e. the church most closely in line with the teachings of Christ and his NT apostles. Little by little worldliness has crept into the gatherings of the church and into its teachings and practices. Tozer talked about this back in the 1940’s, so he was seeing it even then. Yet, I believe some of the most drastic changes have taken place in the past 20 or so years when the teachings and philosophies of pastors, such as Rick Warren, began to sweep across the church in America regardless of church denomination. All of a sudden, no matter the church denomination, the majority were following the gospel according to Rick Warren in how to build their churches (businesses). It was marketing 101, only for the church, and it included many of the world’s marketing techniques and schemes for how to attract the world to your church, i.e. business.

Soon the words “sin” and “repentance” and “obedience” began to disappear from the church teachings. In fact, many began to teach that God does not require us to repent (turn from) our sins and that he does not require obedience to his commandments. They found ways around what the Bible teaches on this subject. Pastors began to be taught to be careful to not offend the people of the world, and how to “filter out” those who are “deep” in their faith and to encourage them to “go someplace else” where they would be a “better fit,” and how to target those who have little Bible knowledge or church background so they could mold them according to the teachings of human beings. It was slow, and it was subtle, at first, in the way all this slipped into the church, but it came, and it changed the way the gospel of Jesus is now being presented in the vast majority of the church here in America.

Then, Obama began teaching against “extremism,” which he defined in such a way as to sound just like evangelical Christians who still hold to the tenets of the Christian faith as taught by Jesus and the apostles. And, he began to preach “tolerance” and “acceptance” of people of all faiths, and of all lifestyles. And, then Pope Francis came front and center in his teachings on “tolerance,” “acceptance,” “compassion,” and “mercy.” And, now we are being taken to a new level, like buying a new bottle of fabric softener for your laundry, i.e. if you have been paying attention to their messages, they are preaching strongly against the gospel according to Jesus and his apostles in favor of a new gospel of grace and mercy which is now taking the world into a one-world religion of the beast (of Revelation).

This mercy that the Pope preaches allows people to continue in their sinful lifestyles and to continue to believe in whatever god they choose to believe in, and he believes that the one true God is good with that. He presents God’s mercy as all-inclusive no matter what religion you follow and no matter what lifestyle you decide to live, as though mercy means tolerance of sinful rebellion against God. It does not! God does not accept sin. Francis teaches God’s love, mercy and grace as acceptance and tolerance of sin. Jesus died to free us from sin! He accepts us when we believe in his Son Jesus Christ by turning from our sin and by following Christ in obedience and surrender. The Pope preaches “no condemnation” for anyone, no matter what. In that case, everyone is saved and is going to heaven. Rules are out the window. Now enters what Jim Cymbala calls “greasy grace,” i.e. a teaching that says God’s grace gives free license to do whatever you want now that you are “under grace.”

So, What is Mercy?

Mercy, as God defines mercy, is different from how humans often define mercy. When God shows mercy to humankind, it is always in accord with his Word, his truth, his character, and his divine will and purposes for humankind. When Jesus showed mercy to the blind, he healed them of their blindness. He did not leave them in their blindness and just pat them on the back and tell them everything was going to be ok and that he was alright with them continuing on that way. No, he delivered them out of their blindness and gave them sight.

Yet, this is not to say that God always heals physically or that if he doesn’t he is not showing mercy. He told Paul that God’s grace was sufficient for him, which was also mercy, for God’s power was perfected in Paul’s weakness, so that when Paul was weak, he was strong, and yet he was strong in the strength of the Lord daily giving him all he needed to do God’s perfect will. God’s mercy is often displayed in giving us what we need, not always giving us what we want. Sometimes, in fact, his mercy can be displayed in bringing trials and tribulations into our lives in order to get us to look up to him, to humble ourselves, to get us to forsake sinful ways or idols, and to get us to walk in his ways and in his truth.

Yet, mercy is also getting something we don’t deserve or earn, and/or it is NOT getting what we do deserve. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope and destined for hell. So God, who is rich in mercy, sent his Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. When he was raised from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Amen! By his stripes we are healed! Yet, not everyone is saved from their sins. We must believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives if we want to be saved from sin (the punishment of and slavery to) and to have eternal life with God in heaven.

When we believe, we die with Christ to sin, we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived in his righteousness and holiness. In other words, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not so we would continue in sin, thinking sin is ok with God now that we are under grace. He died that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. A saved life is a transformed life. A saved life is set free from slavery to sin. A saved life is a life surrendered to God and submitted to the cross of Christ, i.e. in daily dying to sin and self and daily walking in God’s ways. God, who is rich in mercy, set us free from our blindness and brought us into his wonderful light!

The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with God and yet we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (in sin), we are liars and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Please be aware that there are many liars and deceivers who want nothing more than for you to forsake the ways of the Lord to again follow after the ways of the flesh (of Satan), because they are working for Satan who is out to destroy us and the gospel of our Lord Jesus. If they can’t persuade us to change our beliefs through manipulation and deception, they will try to beat it out of us via persecution. These are perilous times in which we live. The beast is rising and soon the world will be under this one-world totalitarian regime and its one-world religion. Stand strong in your faith. Put on the armor of God with which to fight off the devil's schemes against us, and do not lose heart! God will not leave us or forsake us. Just keep trusting him, and keep following what his word teaches regardless of what the world is teaching or the persecution we must face. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on his word, on his truth, and on his full gospel message.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

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