Becoming Mercy Fellowship | Part I - Mercy Is
Christopher Rich – June 14, 2020
Mercy Is.. | Various
Introduction | What is Mercy?
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. As we emerge from a season of lockdowns and unrest it is easy to ride waves of the daily and weekly challenges and chaos but we are going to spend this month slowing down and focusing on who are and who we hope to be in Christ as we are Becoming Mercy Fellowship
What is Mercy? What does it mean? I think we have a concept of mercy that is pretty weak. When we hear the word, we don’t think of strength, victory, order, but softness, capitulation, and even cowardice.
Mercy is: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.
So even a worldly definition Mercy implies that you have been empowered and that you are forgiving.
As we consider what Mercy is, means, calls us to do and be, we need a comprehensive understanding so we can be inspired to embody mercy and be a place inviting others to experience Mercy. In the Bible, the concept of "Mercy" is not getting the just consequence we have earned as a result of our sin. It can also be as simple as extending or experiencing "kindness" think Steadfast Love. Let’s look at this theme across scripture:
PART I | MERCY is CORE to the Gospel and a demonstrated part of God's CHARACTER | Eph 2:1-5
Eph 2:1-3 | And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Who we are - To appreciate what God has done for us we need to remember who we are without God. Because of our sin, spiritually, our condition is not sick, it is dead. This is who we are, because of sin we are unable to respond to respond positively, move effectively, or even recognize we are dead in the water. Our plight is hopeless to be rescued because of our condition caused by our sin. We all need Mercy.
What we do – Spiritually dead is what we are but yet this death is not completely inactive. To be spiritually dead is to be a follower of that which is opposed to life. We follow what is powerfully guiding us. Course of this World – This is the cultures and systems at work that are opposed to God’s rule. Devil – Prince of the power of the Air is another name for Satan. There are spiritual forces at work. We drink deeply of every lie that says God doesn’t love you and there are no consequences for our sin. Because we want to. Flesh- As much as there are external influences and spiritual forces we follow we are driven by our own internal desires and passions Ultimately you cannot blame the wicked culture around you or the evil devil made me do it, because each of these only fed what we truly want. We disobey God because it is our deepest desire. We always do what we want. Bottom line when we are spiritually dead, our deepest desires are always what is our own agenda in all things.
What we have earned - Because of this unholy trinity of the world, devil, and our flesh we follow, we are on a path that does not lead to “rest in peace” but earned wrath. Who we are at our core because of sin is not selfless but selfish, not directed towards following God but rather opposing him. We have temptations external pressure, but each of us is responsible for our own sin. Justice for us would be wrath. BAD NEWS!
Eph 2:4-5 | 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved -
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
BUT GOD!!! Not but you, seeing you were in a bad spot in life started looking for the best spiritual options. Not but you, weighing to difference between following the prince of the power of the air and the almighty high King of Heaven decided it would be best to be on the winning team. Not you, looking at the course of the world from a sociological perspective and saying I don’t think this is the proper direction decided to jump out of the river leading to destruction. God finally says “whew I am so glad you finally came to a fuller understanding of your condition and made the right choice to turn from sin and follow me. I was worried you’d never come around and one of my people who I desired to spare from wrath would unfortunately fall into eternal torment.” NO! Dead people are not capable of earning or even choosing life. But God, the author of all life, initiates and intervenes for us in our state of spiritual death to make us truly alive. Why? This is driven by His great love and mercy towards us and Christ’s great work for us.
Mercy and Love – With all the ‘you’s (really ya’lls) we might get the wrong idea that this text is all about us but THE central focus and figure of this text (and really the whole Bible) is about God and His character. God’s nature is one that is “rich in mercy” Mercy is when we do not get the consequences we deserve. We’ve earned wrath, our nature is children of wrath, but God’s nature is different than ours! We are merciless, with others who have sinned against us or who we disagree with, and with ourselves in shame. We don’t think we deserve mercy, and we’re right we don’t. We are hopeless in need of rescue. God see us floating the wake of the shipwreck, knows our condition, knows our actions and heart, knows our destination and He answers and engages us according to His nature and character not our own. Do you know what I have more than you have sin? Do you know what I can give you more than what you’ve earned? Do you know what I am capable of in the face of death? I am richer in mercy than the account of wrath you’ve earned. My love for you is greater than your sin towards me. My life given is overpowering what death can take. The reason we can say mercy isn’t weakness but is in fact strength is because it is God who is RICH in Mercy that causes Him to use His great power to move people from Death to Life. That is power!
We have been Made Alive (with Christ) Raised up this is resurrection (with him) Seated us in the heavenly places (with Him) Our spiritual death is replaced by life with God through Jesus. By Grace (unearned) you have been saved. Purpose of all of this is to show us the immeasurable riches of His grace towards us in Christ. We cannot measure God’s grace and kindness towards us. All we can do to wrap our heads around is look at the depth of contrast from who we were what we’ve earned to who we now and what will receive. More than saved from tormented tombs, we are called to be in the presence of the King. God moves us from wrath to riches. From tomb to throne. All necessary for our life and from His character…..
PART II | MERCY is CONTINUOUSLY given to us from God | Lamentations 3:16-23
Lam 3:16-23 | 16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;17 my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;18 so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” 19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! 20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
We don’t just need mercy to be made alive but to stay alive in the midst difficulty and trial. The world is broken. There are times when we don’t think we can handle much more. We have souls who continually remembering the pain and grief of our sin and sin committed to us and we can be brought low. Even knowing there is a God can at times not be enough to endure the barrage of brokenness that keeps hitting us rhythmically like waves. It is so easy to get discouraged and for our endurance to perish. We need Hope.
Continuously verse continually – Our soul forgets, our courage flees, our peace evaporates how often? Continually. That means it happens frequently like continually getting ads for work out clothes. But this…
We call to mind that God’s Mercy to us is given continuously. “Steadfast love” and “Mercy” are tied together and are sometimes translated as each other. So we face despair in starts and fits but God gives “steadfast Love” and mercy that NEVER ends, never stops, that is with us and for us continuously. Without interruption! More than not fading or being intermittent God’s love and mercy is actually in a constant state of renewal and upgrade. Because His mercies are NEW every morning. Fresh mercy on the daily. So we have hope!
PART III | MERCY is desired by CHRIST | Matthew 9:10-13
Matthew 9:10-13 | 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus desires Mercy. He desires us to grow in understanding and application of mercy. Jesus has begun to call different people to stop following the course of the world to stop following their agenda’s and to begin to follow and align with His. Disciples have left their jobs and careers to join Jesus’ ministry. He has come to Matthew’s tax collector booth and called Matthew to follow Him. Jesus then goes to His house for dinner. To recline at a table was a sign of association. I’m with you. There are MANY tax collectors (know corrupt oppressors) and sinners (their reputations we public) Then the religious say to Jesus’ disciples “Doesn’t your boy know what he’s doing? Doesn’t he know how these people have systematically harmed our society and contributed to the degradation of our culture? These are NOT good people and they are not who GOOD people associate with.” Jesus hears this and reminds all of them of his desire and mission.
Why are you with the “sick people”? Because they are the ones who need to be healed. Mercy leads us to associate with those who make religious people uncomfortable. Mercy is an antidote to legalism and pride. Mercy is God’s answer to legalism. Because some people think they are the good ones and the others are the bad ones. Jesus tells them go read your bible (Hosea 6:6) I am most interested in “steadfast love” kindness over religious sacrifice. Jesus knows peoples’ great need is the knowledge and relationship with God, otherwise they are destined for destruction. They are alienated from God and need to be made whole. Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus didn’t call the righteous. Point of Fact. No one is righteous, well and without need of the “Physician”. We are all sick. We all need mercy. Jesus knows and brings Mercy.
PART IV | MERCY is our CALL | Micah 6:8
Micah 6:6-8 | 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness (MERCY), and to walk humbly with your God?
Mercy should move us from association to activism. Jesus drew near to those who were in the greatest need. When we begin to consider what a life looks like lived in response to God’s mercy given to us, we should be asking who is in the most need and be moving towards them. We don’t engage in religious activities hoping God will be pleased with us. Don’t hear the wrongly, be generous, be good givers, be sacrificial, but all of that is in response to what God has done for you not what he requires of you. Mercy is greater than religious sacrifice. Mercy is part of a holistic response the brokenness and sin in the world. Seek Justice, know, see, respond to injustice actively and wisely. Love, desire, embrace mercy/kindness and finally walk in humility with God remembering who is God, and who isn’t. Mercy works against polarization we currently feel. Mercy and Justice aren’t different sides of a great chasm but Mercy is the bridge…. Between injustice death, oppression, and righteousness, life and joy. And between Justice and Humility.
Let’s not think 2 out of three ain’t bad. It’s these three tied together. Remember God is a God of justice. We see all three at the cross. Justice is satisfied, mercy is given, and humility is lived out. So take Heart!
PART V | MERCY is our COMFORT | Psalm 23:6
Psalm 23:6 | Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
God’s Mercy to us, is to be a comfort FOR us. We are led by God to a place of rest where we are made to lie down. He is one who restores our soul. This is a great comfort because we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. It would be easy to have great fear of evil, but we are not alone. We have a God who is present with us at all time. With correction and protection come comfort. He is preparing a future for us that is exponentially better than now. Yes, we have a future hope of life with God forever, but we are not alone today, we are not abandoned now. Psalms 23:6 is a balm to a weary soul when it sings, "Surely goodness and MERCY shall follow me all the days of my life.” So let’s be merciful.
PART VI | MERCY WINS! | James 2:12-13
James 2:12-13 | 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Mercy is a mega theme in scripture across generations and genres. Epistles, Gospels, Prophets and Psalms there is a constant theme of God meeting our sin with His mercy and then calling us to respond to sin in the world with Mercy. Mercy isn’t easy, it is costly. Mercy is an effort it is a demonstration of the fruit of the spirit. Mercy is not always an immediate reward but something we have a future hope. Mercy takes a long time to be realized, especially eternally. But mercy is more than not just receiving the consequence and judgement for our sin. We have been set free. Jesus has fulfilled mercy perfectly, He has fulfilled the law perfectly since we are unable to. So we have been given pardon from our sin, we’ve been given position in the kingdom, and we’ve been given purpose in our life now. God has granted us life under the Law of liberty. (Jesus work in our place) So we don’t stand in judgment over others, but remind them there is a God who does judge. One who we are all accountable to. We are conduits mercy (mercy comes to us and through us) not conduits of condemnation. If you’re merciless to others you’re not living the law of liberty, you’re rejecting mercy and you shouldn’t expect mercy. Live as one who has had Mercy invaded and occupy our souls. We all deserve justice and alone are defeated and condemned in our sin but James 2:13 simply tells us "MERCY triumphs over judgement." To triumph is not only to win but to win BIG, to boast over to taunt. When we come to God in Christ we do not have to fear judgment because judgement has been so roundly defeated that Mercy stands over it and declares I HAVE WON! Mercies victory is our when we Trust Jesus.
More in Becoming Mercy Fellowship
January 3, 2021BECOMING MERCY FELLOWSHIP VISION Sunday
June 28, 2020Becoming Mercy Fellowship | Part III Our Identity & Mission
June 21, 2020Becoming Mercy Fellowship | Part II - Fellowship