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My God is…desiring mercy, not sacrifices Matthew 9:10-13

Matthew 9:10-13 – And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were mercy sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Jesus is hanging with the “wrong crowd”

In this verse, we meet up with Jesus as He is eating with the tax collectors and sinners. He has just called Matthew to follow Him, and Matthew did. Now the Pharisees were freaking out because of the company Jesus was keeping. They didn’t like the idea that someone who spoke with such authority, who was teaching and leading people would spend His time with people who clearly had not been living well. They thought they should be getting a nod for their good behavior. Hadn’t they always tried to do what is right? Hadn’t they always given what they should to the Lord? Hadn’t they always gone and worshiped when it was required, and even when it wasn’t? Why would Jesus, if He was such an important religious figure hang out with people who were known to rip people off? People who had cheated on their spouses? People who hadn’t made it to the synagogue in quite a while? They asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

What the pharisees didn’t get was that God came to save the lost. He came to help those who are helpless. He came to save the sinner from their sin. That each of us (because we all have fallen short of the Glory of God), each sinner, might be forgiven for their sins, and instead of spending an eternity in hell, we would be forgiven and be able to have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

Here’s the crux of the problem. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed a savior. They felt they had done enough to secure their fate with God. After all, they had done all that was expected of them. They went to church, gave to the church, supported their family, stayed away from drugs and alcohol, didn’t have wandering eyes. Basically they were stand up guys. They weren’t used to having their self-worth questioned. So what was the problem? What was standing between them and God?

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

Jesus quotes His Father (Hosea 6:6). God was telling the people of Judah and Ephraim that He desired mercy, not sacrifice. The people of that time had been constantly distracted from their relationship with God. They were concerned about themselves and nothing else. They ignored the warning signs God had given them through prophets. They ignored God’s wishes. They would attack people, murder and other sins. They completely disregarded God. The pharisees in Jesus day would have known these stories well. They had done a lot of study of the Bible. They were the one’s teaching everyone else what the words of scripture meant. For Jesus to tell them to go and learn what is meant by “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”, means they clearly weren’t demonstrating it’s meaning. The pharisees were concerned with fulfilling the letter of the law, but not the intent behind it. God’s intent was not about the law, but that the people He loved (and loves) would be able to have the best relationship with Him as possible. His laws were intended to keep people safe, point them back to Him and to bless them. They weren’t intended as check boxes to be marked off. They have value, but when they are used to measure one’s salvation, they are misused.

For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners

The truth is we are all sinners. Should we be striving to be more like Christ? Yes, of course. The problem is, many of us think that what we do is what is going to get us into heaven. We think that our good has to outweigh our bad and then we’re set. I have heard many people say, “I’m a good person, I’m sure I’ll get into heaven.” Sadly that’s not going to work. Being a good person is not a requirement. Believing that Jesus died to save us from not being a good person is what is required. Faith in Jesus’ saving grace is the only way to get into heaven. It’s not only unbelievers who cling to this idea, those who profess to believe in Jesus also struggle (just like the pharisees). They are working themselves to death, trying to do the “right thing”. They help at church, give a lot of money to charities, sit on boards they hate, why? Often it’s because they feel it’s their duty. God isn’t interested in our duty. He only wants us to do these good things (very good things) if the reason we’re doing them is because we are so grateful for what He’s done for us. We’re not supposed to do them in some misguided attempt to earn our way to heaven. God has done everything necessary for us to get to heaven. We need only believe in Him and trust that He’s got us covered in His redemptive blood. So don’t worry if you make mistakes. God knows you. Instead of putting your faith in your actions, put your faith in Him.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Matthew, not sacrifices

 

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My God is…the God of all consolation 2 Corinthians 1:2-4

2 Corinthians 1:2-4 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the

distraught-woman
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

Definition of CONSOLE

: to alleviate the grief, sense of loss, or trouble of : comfort

The Father of mercies and the God of all consolation
In August of 2012, we were watching the landing on Mars, and my sons said a phrase I had never heard before…”Like a Boss”. Perhaps you’re like me and didn’t know this phrase, but as you can imagine, it means that you’re the best at something. It’s like you are in charge of all things that have to do with that subject. You’re a pro. You owned it. Basically that you know what you’re doing and it shows. God isn’t “like a boss of mercy and consolation, He is the Father of all mercies. He created mercy. He is the God of all consolation. You can’t get any more “Boss” than God.

Who consoles us in all our affliction
“If God brings you to it, He’ll see you through it.” I don’t know if God brings all things on us. I think somethings He would rather we didn’t get ourselves into, but no matter what He can bring us through it. I also believe that going through affliction, persevering and clinging to God draws us closer to God and others. Romans 5:3-5 says, “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” We definitely go through some rough stuff in life. But with Christ we can get through it. When we rely on God, and see His faithfulness after we’ve come through something horrible, our faith is increased. We know that God has given us strength to endure the pains of today, but that we are promised a future that is without pain and suffering with Him in heaven.

So that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God
I’ve seen it time and time again, in my life as well as the life of my friends. Our sufferings of today are our connections of tomorrow. Whether it is a life altering diagnosis, a miscarriage, a rough marriage, bankruptcy, childlessness, being single, or whatever it is you’re going through, someone else has gone through it too. Being able to talk with others who have faced similar (though each situation is unique) problems, gives us consolation. God has brought us through things that were horrible. At the time we didn’t think we would make it through. They seemed too painful, to hopeless or unbearable. But, by the Grace of God, we did make it through. I’ll bet most of us have gone through something really tough. I would also bet that most of us have been able to console someone else because of what we went through. Hearing that others survived helps us to persevere through our plight, then be able to help others. I know that’s how it felt whenever I met a mother of twins. They would see me with my little twin babies and look at me reassuringly saying, “It gets easier”. That gave me hope. They had seen and experienced the frustrations that come in the early years of raising twins, and knew it would get easier. They were right, but their consolation was comforting and encouraging.

Our Pain becomes a blessing
Sometimes our pains can even turn out to be a blessing. An opportunity for growth in our families, churches and communities. We’re able to connect with people on a deeper level than we were before. We’re able to see God at work in our lives and the lives of others. We see purpose in our suffering. We grow and are strengthened in relationships and faith. Next time (or maybe right now) as you go through a time of suffering, look for how God might use this in the future. Think about who might be blessed by knowing what you’ve gone through. How you might help someone who feels like there is no one else out there going through these same things. Maybe they need to know that not all families are kind. Maybe they need to know that they can survive the pains of this world. Maybe they need to know that you came through bankruptcy, that the Lord provided even when it seemed impossible. Maybe they need to know that your marriage wasn’t always easy. Maybe they need to know that one day their baby will sleep through the night. But they certainly need to know that in the end, the Lord their God wants them to spend eternity with Him in heaven. He has big plans for them, and not all of them are just here on earth. He wants to continue to bless them into all eternity. There is hope in the consolation from our Lord.

Who is consoling you?
 

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My God is…showing clemency Micah 7:18-19

Micah 7:18-19 – Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity Psalm-107
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.

Definition of CLEMENCY

1a : disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due
 b : an act or instance of leniency
2: pleasant mildness of weather
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession?
How amazing is our God? What boss, what parent, what friend would put up with all we do that is abominable in His eyes? We are consistently falling short of reflecting God’s glory. Especially as those who already know Him, we should know better. We should do better. We wouldn’t be so quick to forgive the outright disobedience and disrespect that we show to our God. But God is better than us. He passes over the transgression to get to the soul. He pardon’s the iniquity so that we can remain in relationship with Him even though we don’t deserve it.

He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency.

Does that mean that God doesn’t mind that we do bad things? I don’t think that’s what it means, I just think it means He knows our sins have been dealt with on the cross. He knows our hearts and our intentions. He knows whether or not we are seeking to be more like Him or if we don’t care about having  a relationship with Him. He knows our heart, and like a father forgives the daughter he loves so much, God forgives us. He looks into our eyes and says, “come here and give me a hug.” Not only does he not hold onto His anger forever, He likes to be lenient, to be gracious and merciful.

Maybe an even closer analogy is the love of a grandparent. Grandparents love their grandchildren so much. The often see the stupidity or recklessness of their grandchildren, but when the child’s parent tries to discipline them, the grandparent may say something like, “They didn’t mean to. Please don’t be mad at them.” Like a grandparent shows clemency so God shows us clemency. I know that I’ve told this story before, but it’s my best example of my mother’s clemency. She used to pray that I would not get the full consequences of my sin. She knew as I grew up there would be times that I would be stupid, make bad decisions and probably deserved to get in trouble. My mom didn’t want me to get away with things. She knew I had some lessons to learn, but I think she really didn’t want me to end up in jail or pregnant. By the clemency of God (and some prayers on my moms part) I was not given the full consequences of my sins.

You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

God, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, has removed our sins and taken them as far away from us as possible. We don’t have to keep thinking about them. We don’t have to try to pay for them by self-loathing, over compensating or self-neglect. We can, because of what He’s done for us, freely explore the life of significance the Lord has designed for us. We no longer are held captive by the sin of this world. Close your eyes and imagine the Lord taking all your sins from you. Make sure you open the closet of your heart and give Him the ones that are still eating away at your soul. Then imagine you can see Him throwing them down to the depths of the sea. The will never be brought back up by the Lord, make sure you don’t go diving for them.

You have been shown clemency!

 

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in My God is showing clemency

 

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My God is Gracious and Merciful Psalm 86:15

Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

What’s the difference? 

God is gracious and merciful. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I use these terms interchangeably. I don’t know if I even usually think about the difference between them. I was thinking, if there wasn’t a difference, why would the Psalmist use both words? To be poetic? Possibly, but I think the words were chosen more deliberately.

Merciful – Full of Mercy

So what does mercy mean?

mer·cy

1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power;compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.

3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
God is Merciful 
Again, I love the study of words. It is amazing how full the word mercy is when you look at all its meanings. Having a merciful God means that he has compassion on me. He is compassionate without me deserving it. I may deserve death, but God is merciful to me and changes my sentence from death to life with Him in heaven. He performed His biggest act of mercy or compassion on me when He saved me from my sins by sending His son Jesus to die for me. I deserved to go to hell, because of my sins that turned me away from Him, but instead he was merciful and provided me a way out so that I might not end up in hell, but in heaven with Him.
God is Gracious
So we know that gracious and merciful often go together, so what can be added by including gracious to the list of who God is? Well let’s see if the definition of gracious helps us figure that out at all.
gra·cious 

1. Characterized by kindness and warm courtesy.
2. Characterized by tact and propriety: responded to the insult with gracious humor.
3. Of a merciful or compassionate nature.
4. Condescendingly courteous; indulgent.
5. Characterized by charm or beauty; graceful.
6. Characterized by elegance and good taste: gracious living.
7. Archaic Enjoying favor or grace; acceptable or pleasing.
We see by the third definition that, yes, grace is closely related to mercy. Grace is to have that merciful nature, or should I say you can’t be gracious without having a merciful nature. I like the first definition of God being described as having kindness and a warm courtesy. Today I’m going to see my Great Aunt and Uncle. They have that gift. That kindness and warm courtesy. Maybe you know someone who has that too. How does it feel to enter their home. Are you uncomfortable? NO! They make you feel good and welcomed. God wants that for us as well. He’s not trying to make us feel bad, but instead he wants us to shed our old ways so we can have nothing standing in our own way from enjoying Him to the fullest.
It’s funny, while the other definitions may not seem like they are directly related to who God is, they too make a fuller, richer picture of what it means to be gracious, and all of those things are true about our Lord.
Merciful and Gracious
God is not only going to give us another chance at life, but He’s going to be gracious in the way He does it. Because of His mercy we are able to enjoy His favor and grace as He makes us acceptable and pleasing to Him. May we grow in grace and mercy for those around us as a reflection of the grace and mercy we have received.
 

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My God is…a Comforter Psalm 23

Psalm 23 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

My dear friend is going through a rough time today. Her Stepmother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last night. Then she finds out that same day that her husband lost his job. Sometimes life just sucks. Living here on earth is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Life happens. We’re faced with not great things, and sometimes it feels like everything is being piled up on us and is overwhelming. I met my friend a few years ago, and it seems as though her and her family have been going through some really big stuff ever since I met them. They’ve had many deaths, job loss, job change and illnesses to boot. I think if I were them I would feel like I’m walking through the valley.

He restores my soul.

It can be frustrating to watch your friends go through such hard times. You want to do so much for them, but you’re not sure what is helpful and what isn’t. In an attempt to be helpful, we set up a meal train for them. That’s when a bunch of people come together to provide meals for the family. We set one up in hopes that at least not having to think about meals would be a relief to them. But truly the healing they need is not something we can provide, but the restoring of the soul that only Jesus Christ can provide. I pray that comes quickly for them.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord promises us that when we endure these troubling times, we will gain perseverance, character and hope.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 Rejoice in our sufferings

As I was talking to my friend today, she said to me, “It will be ok. I’m just really sad.” Now I know that doesn’t seem like rejoicing, but it kind of is. It is standing in the hope that the Lord will see us through. My friends faith is a blessing to me, and her strength is amazing. I pray that our church family and our friends will be able to lift her up in such a way that they will be able to look back at this hard time and remember the love that they were shown.

 

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in My God is my Comforter, Psalm

 

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My God is…my deliverer Psalm 140:6-8

Psalm 140:6-8 I say to the LORD, “You are my God.” Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy. Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle. Do not grant the wicked their desires, LORD; do not let their plans succeed.

You are my God, Have mercy on me

Definition of MERCY

a : 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 mercy they found her before she froze>
3: compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>
At the beginning of this week, my husband and I had the pleasure of going to a Prayer and Renewal Retreat. My husband had attended before, so he was in a different phase, but in Phase one, I was taught about two types of praying I hadn’t experience before: Lectio Divina and the “Jesus Prayer“. In the Jesus prayer, a phrase similar to the one in our text is used: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
We all need mercy
Because of sin, I need of mercy. The Psalmist wants God to be a deliverer. This is no call for a UPS man. This is a call for someone to help you escape the inevitable. Think about when people ask for mercy. Picture it. I’m picturing the six-fingered man from the “Princess Bride” about to get killed by Inigo Montoya.
When I’m in a pinch, I’m always a bit more willing to make amends. I might say things like, “Lord, get me out of this and I’ll never do it again.” I want to bargain with God. I want him to deliver me from the pain I’m afraid is coming our way. I often forget to acknowledge the way He has already had mercy on me.
My God is my Deliverer
On the cross, Jesus took away all of my sins. Paid for all of my short comings, failings and mistakes. He did it because He loves me. He had mercy on me. I was in a pinch. I couldn’t have survived without Him, but because of His mercy, I’m not getting what I deserve, Hell. I’m getting the best of the best, a life with the one who loves me more than anyone else does. My Lord Jesus Christ.
What deliverer do you count on?
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in My God is My Deliverer, Psalm

 

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My God is Merciful Micah 7:18-20

Micah 7:18-20 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.

Who is a God like you

When I was studying this verse, I noticed in the notes that phrase might be a pun on Micah’s name which means “Who is like the Lord?”. It’s a good question. Who is like that? Not me that’s for sure.

You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

What a beautiful thing to know about our God. That He doesn’t stay angry forever. He has every right to, but he doesn’t. Sometimes I think a parents love is like this. We get mad. Boy, do we get mad. But we don’t stay mad at our children. We love them in spite of themselves. They may drive us crazy, but we love them. Ok – some of you may know this is not a perfect reflection (especially if you put one of those Dr. Phil cameras in your house – you know some problems never go away!).

God delights to show mercy

When is the last time you were delighted. Close your eyes and think about it. I can think of a time I was recently delighted. My friend Tara sent me a present out of the blue. It was a very special, encouraging present. It was unexpected and amazing. My heart delights when I think about it now. Delight is such an amazing thing.

Definition of DELIGHT  de·light noun \di-ˈlīt, dē-\

1: a high degree of gratification : joyalso : extreme satisfaction
2: something that gives great pleasure <her performance was a delight>
archaic : the power of affording pleasure
It brings God joy to show mercy. 
He does show us mercy, doesn’t he. I know when I was in college, I was stupid. I made a lot of mistakes. It wasn’t until later that I found out that my mother had been praying all those years for my sister and I. She was praying that God would not give us the full consequences of our sins. That He would show us mercy. And thank God He did.
Are you given the full consequences of your sin?
In Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We’re told that the wages (consequences) of sin is death, but that’s not what God gives us. By His mercy he gives us more than we deserve. He gives us eternal life, because of Jesus Christ.
Why do good things happen to Bad people?
I’m sure your friends, Christians and non-Christians alike, have asked “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. But the truth is, we’re not good people. We’re sinners. I think a better question to ask is Why do good things happen to bad people. The answer is the Mercy of our God through Jesus Christ. Because of Him we don’t get the full consequences of our sin. I’m grateful my mom prayed this prayer for me, and today it is my prayer for my family and you as well. May you never have the full consequences of your sins, but instead receive the mercy given you through the death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in My God is Merciful

 

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