Today’s Scripture: “12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” James 2:12-13
So…we begin the count down to the end of this series. We have nine messages to go. I don’t know if any of you have gotten anything out of this series. I don’t know if any of you have been challenged or helped to get a better picture of what a surrendered life is or looks like. I know that I’ve gotten quite a bit from these messages. I know my heart has been challenged, and I also know that I have a lot of surrendering left to do.
The awesome thing is that God doesn’t expect us to know how to live surrendered lives over night, and He understands that our surrendering to Him is a process not an event. So…of all of the gifts God’s given to us one of my favorites is His mercy…and today we’re going to be talking about extending the mercy He has given to us to others…and I know that this is one area I can always grow up in…I can always learn to share more mercy with the world…how about you?
Lord…I thank You for what You’re about to speak to us today, and I just want to yield myself to Your Spirit…Lord God. So that I may write only that which You would have me to write. I pray for clarity of mind, strength of focus, and that You…Lord God…would take over my mind, my thoughts, and my ability to write. Make me…Holy Spirit…that as a pen of a ready writer speaking only of the oracles of You. I pray that You would give me that supernatural anointing to write that only You can give. I ask for ears that will hear what it is that You would have to say…and hearts that will respond to what You have to say to us this day…about extending Your mercy to those around us…including ourselves. I ask You…Holy Spirit…to take over now…in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.
I want to talk to you just for a moment about three things that God extends to us that we are required of Him as His children to extend to others…and we’re also required to extend them to ourselves. Those three things:
- The Love of God: The Bible says in Romans 5:5 that the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”. That means, friends that we have the love of God on the inside of us. That agape love that we read about in 1 Corinthians 13 is just a mere picture of God’s love toward us. I recently have heard my pastor preach this…and it bears repeating that we always talk about God’s love being unconditional…but actually His love is perfect…absolutely perfect. It is this love that He extended to us that while we were yet sinners He sent His Son to die for us so that we could be in right standing with Him. He extends this perfect love because He knew that some would reject Him to their dying breaths…but He still loves us…because He is love.
- The Grace of God: Grace is, therefore, God’s unmerited favor – His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. We read in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved by grace through faith in what His Son did for us on the Cross. If we believe in our hearts, and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is not only our Savior…but our Lord as well (all who call upon the name of Jesus as Lord…shall be saved)…we are saved. How? By grace through faith. God shows and extends us grace far beyond what we can see…we read in Romans 5:20 (NKJV) “But where sinabounded, grace abounded much more,”. Do you know that we are to extend the grace that God shows us to others? We some times hear God’s grace defined as us not getting what we do deserve.
- God’s Mercy: If we say that grace is not getting what we deserve then God’s mercy is Him blessing us with the things we do not deserve. We some times might even repeat in church services “For the Lord…He is good and His mercy endures forever.” We read in the Bible that His faithfulness and mercy are new every morning. Every single day of our lives God extends grace, mercy and love to us. So it stands to reason that if He extends those things to us…since we’re saved and made in His image we have those things on the inside of us as well…and since He is our God and Father…then those things which He extends to us…we ought to extend to the world and to ourselves.
How’s that for a short side journey? I know…it wasn’t really all that short…but don’t blame me…blame the Holy Ghost. I barely got a glimpse of today’s reading…but what I saw let’s me know we’re going to talk about extending mercy.
So, back to the message we go:
When I was young, I often played the game Mercy. It’s a simple game really. You and your opponent take both of your hands and intertwine them with each other’s. You then proceed to bend them back trying to “win the game”. When it starts to hurt beyond what you can handle, you merely yell, “Mercy!” and your opponent stops. Whoever yells “Mercy!” is the loser.
I remember playing this game with one of my uncles, some of my cousins, and even some of my friends as a little boy. Some call it mercy…some call it uncle…but either way…if you were shouting out “mercy” you were counting on the person to understand that you’ve reached your threshold of what you can bear…and asking them for the mercy to stop…and if you yelled first…you lost the game.
Can I just ask this question and have you think about this? I’m not going to expound on it, but just to say this: Do you know that we are in a real life game of mercy every day? We’re basically holding the hands of life in ours, and some times we’re just holding hands, and others just like that game of mercy we played…life tends to bend us and pull us in ways that push us beyond what we can bear. When you get to that point…who do you turn to? If you turn to your own abilities…like I have at times…life will definitely show you now mercy…and will bend you till you break. However, if you turn to the Lord…then He replaces your hands with His…and instead of your life bending until it breaks…He bends life’s hands until it breaks it’s grip off of you.
Can you see where we are going here? Mercy is so much deeper than just not holding a grudge or forgiveness or just being kind. Maybe in order to get an understanding of what mercy is from a definition standpoint we should look it up and see what Webster’s says:
Definition of MERCY
1a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy> b:imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b: a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercythey found her before she froze>
3: compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>
So…one of the main components of mercy is something that my pastor from New Life Christian Centertaught on this morning…compassion. It means that a merciful heart is born out of that love of God that’s shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost…and that the motive for mercy is love. See…we cannot just say that we show people mercy…and I’m saying this to myself just as much as I am you.
In today’s message the writer of this devotional takes a look at one of the definitions provided by Webster’s Dictionary. That point that she looks at is this one:
Webster defines mercy as this: compassion shown to an offender; imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
Do you all not know that we deserved what Jesus got on the Cross? The very gruesome and horrifyingly painful death that Jesus experienced physically, emotionally, and spiritually is what we deserved. I don’t personally understand how anyone can look at what Jesus bore for us on the Cross without coming to the understanding that what Jesus endured is what we all should’ve been sentenced to…for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ…on display right there for us in Jesus is God’s love…God’s grace…and God’s mercy.
Listen…there isn’t one of us who doesn’t need the mercy of God, and therefore it stand to reason that if we need it…we ought to extend it. It’s the same with forgiveness. Even though that person that ripped your heart out doesn’t deserve to be forgiven…neither do we. We don’t deserve to be forgiven…God sent His ONLY Son to die for us…like Pastor Bryan said to us this morning…take a moment to meditate upon that point for a moment.
When we look at that person who has ripped our heart out, and refuse to forgive them…how can we turn around and look to God to forgive us for doing things that rip His heart out…like reject His Son. Listen…if you want to get a small glimpse of what God gave up in Jesus for us to be reconciled to Him…for all of you who are parents…think about having to sacrifice one of your children…and especially those who have only children…think about sacrificing YOUR only child…and when you think about how you would feel…take a moment to reflect on the fact that those feelings you would have about your child…God had that feeling not only in sacrificing His Son…be He continues to have that feeling over every soul that leaves this world rejecting what Jesus did for them.
See…mercy is much deeper. Mercy is one of those unsearchable words that I don’t believe we’ll ever fully grasp the meaning of. Those three things that we think we understand…grace…mercy…love…I don’t think we’ll ever really fully comprehend the depth of the meaning of those words…that’s just my opinion here…I’ve nothing to base or back that up with…but I believe that we have no real understanding of God’s grace…God’s love…or God’s mercy.
In the Christian life, we are far from losers when we are given mercy. Not only was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross full of grace, but also full of mercy! We deserved that cross, not Jesus. We are the offenders, not Him. But God showed us his amazing compassion by not giving us what we deserve.
See, either way when you look at grace and mercy they’re both giving us what we don’t deserve, and not giving us what we do deserve. When you look at the second definition “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion” then we understand that God’s grace and mercy isn’t given to us because we deserve either of them…it’s given to us because He loves us…and He desired a right relationship with us.
Don’t believe me…let’s take a look at 1 John 4:10 (KJV): “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (Just so you know…two of my pastors…Pastor Bryan See and Pastor Cass Hill of New Life Christian Center both taught on this verse this morning.). The motive of everything God did (and still does) for us is always out of not “unconditional” love, but perfectlove.
So…I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that we’re definitely on the same page with the Holy Ghost. Because the truth is a person who is living a life surrendered to God will also have the motive of love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).
We cannot be surrendered to God…and not extend grace…mercy…and love to the world and people around us. We cannot be surrendered to God and not offer forgiveness and love without conditions. We cannot call ourselves children of God if we don’t display any of the things that are said to be of His image.
Listen…as children of our parents in some way shape or form we eventually look like our parents, act like our parents, and are the express image of the combination of our parents. Likewise, as children of God we ought to bear some of the things that are in His image because WE are made in His image after His likeness…and if we’re not extending forgiveness…compassion…grace…love…or mercy to people…then God is not our Father.
I didn’t say that…the Word of God did. “Everyone that loveth is born of God and knows God. He that does not love does not know God…because God is love”. God IS grace. God IS mercy. God IS forgiveness. God IS compassion. God IS love. If we’re not displaying any of those attributes or characteristics…then we cannot say we know God. We can say we know of God…but if our life in some way does not reflect those things I just mentioned…the you don’t know God…and you certainly aren’t serving Him like you say you are…and I am writing this to myself too.
Listen…friends…everything that I write in these messages I’m not only writing for your benefit, but mine as well. I wouldn’t be doing my job as a pastor if I just wrote the nice stuff that everyone wants to read, but some times I have to write the stuff that is unpopular. Some times I have to write things that I don’t necessarily want to write. Some times I have to say things that are going to be offensive…to you. Please understand the intent and purpose is not to be offensive…and let me suggest that if you’re offended maybe you ought to examine your heart to find out why…because the real truth is that if you’re offended it’s probably because you need to check your heart in these areas…and ask God to deal with you on them…and help you to get them right between you and Him so that you can have that deep, intimate relationship with Him you desire. I’m not going to ever write anything in these messages that I wouldn’t first internalize and write as though I’m speaking to myself. I know that I have many…many areas of my life that I need to surrender…improve…and grow up in…and I don’t want to have to fact these points either…but the truth is…God is sick and tired of empty religion and religious rituals…He is looking for a people who have a heart for Him and have His heart for the world.
If you’re running around here in this world with a merciless heart, unwilling to extend grace, unforgiving, and the things you do aren’t done out of the motive of love…then first of all your motives are wrong…and secondly you do not know the God you claim to know because if you did…if I did…then our lives would display the very attributes and characteristics of God that are supposed to be on the inside (and outside) of each and everyone of us.
We cannot run around here claiming to love God and have people that we absolutely despise and refuse to forgive, love, or extend grace and mercy to…because God doesn’t despise you or I. God doesn’t refuse to extend grace and mercy to you or I. God doesn’t refuse to love you or I. So…again…the point comes back to this…if you or I are refusing to extend those things…the we just simply do not know God like we say we do…and we’re certainly not serving God.
Listen. Pastor Cass said this statement this morning, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it…and in fact I’ve even written it and said it myself. Ready for this:
“If my motive for ministry is anything but love it is a wrong motive.” – Pastor Cass Hill of New Life Christian Center – Part 2 of Spiritual Impact (Sun. July 15, 2012)
If our motives in serving God is anything other than love…than our motive is wrong! Listen…Pastor Cass had no idea I was going to be writing about this today. I didn’t have any idea I was going to be writing about this today until I sat down in front of this computer and started typing.
Do you want to have a greater spiritual impact upon the people around you or do you just want to play around with church and serving God? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to play around at all when it comes to serving God. I don’t want to play church. I don’t want to be “churchy”…I don’t want to have dry religion or religious traditions that mean absolutely nothing…and do nothing to impact people…and help to usher them into the kingdom of God…and develop their relationship with God.
I want everything I do to be pure, authentic, and have the visible characteristics of my Father. That means I have to learn how to extend forgiveness whether it’s deserved or not. That means I have to extend His love to people without expecting them to love me back. That means I have to extend grace to people because Lord knows I’ve needed tons upon tons of God’s grace to be extended to me in my life. That means that I have to extend mercy to people…even when they don’t deserve it. Why? Because I didn’t deserve the mercy God extended to me…and who in the world am I to not extend the very thing to others that I didn’t and still don’t deserve to have extended to me? How dare I have so much pride that I’m unwilling to share what I’ve been given.
Ever heard the expression “freely I have received therefore I freely give”. I have received God’s love, forgiveness, compassion, grace, and mercy free of charge. The only thing it costs me is surrendering my life to His Lordship, and the crazy thing about that is that I don’t even have to get it right all the time. I can still miss God on a daily basis and have His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness freely extended to me…not because I deserve it…but because God desires to extend it to me free of charge.
Listen these things cost us nothing but believing in our hearts and confessing with out mouths that Jesus Christ isn’t just our Savior, but He’s our Lord. What does that mean? That means we relinquish the control and lordship of our lives to Him. Again…it’s free. It costs us nothing…but it cost God His Son…it cost God His live. He sacrificed and surrendered His life for us knowing that we would still reject Him, that we would still make mistakes, and that some of us would never accept what He did…but that didn’t stop Him from sacrificing His life for us.
Why? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We didn’t choose Him…He chose us. He loved us before we were ever created. He loved us before we ever stepped in to the realm of time. He has loved us with an everlasting…unending…unconditional…perfect love that cannot be duplicated or understood or fully comprehended. If we could then Paul wouldn’t have had to pray that we would understand the height, width, length, and depth of God’s love for us.
Is anyone getting anything out of this? Is this message hitting anyone today…or am I just writing to myself. I’ll tell you what…if I’m writing this to myself…then I need to repent…and ask God to forgive me for having too much pride because I don’t always freely extend those things which I have been freely given. I’m being honest here. I’m not perfect. I don’t have or get a 100% from God…I’m growing, learning, failing, and making mistakes just like everyone else…so I’m certainly not immune to what I’m writing…this is one of those messages that I’m going to have to go back and re-read myself…because I need to take heed of what I’m writing.
I know this message is going long…but thank God for the utterance that I’m getting…remember way back at the beginning I asked God to get me out of the way and take control…and all of this is God…all of this stems not just from today’s devotional message…but some of the things said to me this morning because Pastor Cass’s message today…and this one we’re doing mirror each other.
We readily accept that mercy from God and are so thankful that we aren’t given what we truly deserve. But as fast as we receive God’s mercy in our lives, we have a hard time extending it to others. When we don’t forgive someone for hurting us when we’ve been forgiven so much (Rom. 5:8). When we hoard our resources during a plentiful time because we’ve forgotten what it was like to be in need. Or it could be something as simple as not allowing a car to merge into our lane on the highway when we were just extended the same act by another kind driver.
Getting back to the devotional…there really isn’t much that I can add to what is written here already. We readily accept the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love from God…but here’s the question for us all to really meditate upon…maybe some of us need to meditate upon it and let it marinate in our minds as we sleep tonight…praying before we go to sleep asking God to give us greater revelation and speak to us directly about how we answer this question right here:
- How readily do we extend the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love that we receive from God?
I would like to encourage you to really meditate upon that question tonight, and pray about it before you lay down to go to sleep. I know that I am…and ask God to speak to you about how you can honestly answer that question…because the only way to get ourselves to be where God wants us is to answer questions like these honestly. So…I hope y’all join me…this is probably going to be seen again in the Be A Doer Not Just A Reader section of this message.
The mercy of God is more than our finite minds will ever be able to comprehend. We will never understand how the Creator of the Universe sent his son to our broken earth in order to redeem mankind (Is. 55:8-9). We will never grasp how wide and high and deep the love of God is (Eph. 3:18).
Listen…do you want confirmation that I’m really hearing from the Holy Ghost, and that I’m not making this stuff up? I am just now adding what was already available in this devotional message. I’m not just making this stuff up.
But even though we don’t fully get it, it doesn’t mean we can’t receive it with open arms and rest in our eternal security through Christ’s death on the cross. And I believe that when we really receive that and see that we don’t deserve all that’s been sent our way by a kind and loving God, we can then extend that same mercy to others.
Did you catch the two points here that we’ve been talking about already? Even though we don’t fully understand God’s mercy…that doesn’t mean we don’t have it, and cannot receive it with open arms. AND it also means that just because we cannot fully understand it…it doesn’t mean we can’t extend it to others.
I believe that’s a good place to wrap up this message…God’s mercy is available to us, but it’s also available for us to extend to others. I hope you’ve been challenged like I have…and will join me in seeking God to help us to make sure we’re extending the love, grace, and mercy that He’s given to us…Amen!?!
Points for Pondering:
- Do you find it difficult to “let things go” when someone has hurt or offended you?
- Do you have a hard time extending mercy in situations where you’ve been extended mercy to?
Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:
- We often judge others by their actions but ourselves by our intentions. Ask God to show you were you need to show mercy to others.
- Take time to sincerely seek the Lord when it comes to answering this question: “How readily do we extend the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love that we receive from God?”
Conclusion & Prayer:
I know this was a long message, but I hope that it’s inspired you to consider some things. I know that I am challenged in my heart not just by the message I wrote today, but the message that was preached to me this morning at my church. It’s amazing to me how the Holy Spirit is in the midst of all of this…and even though we’re a couple of days behind…today’s message was just on time…and I love how the Holy Ghost can make all things work together…and produce a message that only He can.
Lord God…what can I say except that I need Your forgiveness, grace, compassion, love and mercy all the time…and yet there are times where I knowingly don’t extend those same things to others. Lord…forgive us for not freely extending to others what we have been freely given…and that which we readily receive…and Lord show us all the areas where we need to extend the grace, mercy, and love that You have extended to us…to others…Lord drive this message into our hearts…and help us to learn how to walk it out in our lives so that when the world looks at us they see You manifested through us…and they feel Your love for them through us. In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen