One of the great questions I have sometimes is not whether God would really forgive me because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. I accept this by faith without fully understanding because the Bible tells me so. What puzzles me more is why an infinitely pure holy and powerful God would care to spend eternity with me. And then I come to this verse and am reminded that while the distance from the North to South poles is fixed (12,430 miles) from East to West there is no measure. That measure”s limit lies beyond the edge of the universe, just like the love and mercy of God!
And can it be that even on our darkest days when we face our most difficult people God is giving us opportunity to show mercy? Maybe He leads us through the valley of the shadow so that we can learn to forgive even there. A bit further on and on sunnier days we may discover how merciful and forgiving He has been to us when we were most dark and difficult with others.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy Matthew 5:7
I said, “Lord, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.” Psalm 41:4
Today there is such a fascination with super heroes. Captain America, Superman, Iron Man or whoever our favorite is, appeal to us because they are smarter, stronger and better looking than we are. Our lives seem pretty ho-hum compared to people who are always busy saving the world from the latest bad guy (or gal).
But the reality of life as king David discovered was not just about defeating Goliath. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and our own sins have left wounds behind that we need for God to forgive and heal. David was just as much a man after God’s own heart when he cried out for God’s forgiveness as when he was busy killing giants and winning battles. Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross for Superman, Wonder Woman or the Flash; he came to die for plain vanilla sinners like you and me! The good news of the Gospel is that the one and only truly Superman left His super powers behind and was born in a barn next to cows and sheep. The good news is not that God left us a secret formula by which we could gain special powers, but that He listens when we cry for help.
Remember when Jesus told of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray? The Pharisee thought he was strong, so never asked God for help. But the tax collector, who knew only too well of his weakness, cried out for mercy and God heard and forgave. Super strength doesn’t come from some mysterious force but from the peace God gives when the blood of Jesus Christ washes clean every stain!
But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble Psalm 59:16
In the morning we need tot remember who brought us through the night!
Grace =Not because we deserved it;-not because we planned well – not because we did anything better than anyone else; but because He chose on Calvary to give us His mercy.
In the face of a tidal wave of Islamic terrorism, hate, murder and fearfulness how is the Christian to stand today? When the mind rebels against unimaginable horror and the continual trauma of war, bloodshed and hopelessness how can the church give the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ? In the news we read day after day of the happenings in Iran, where our brother Abedini has now been imprisoned for two years, to Syria where yet another hostage has been murdered, to South Sudan where tens of thousands are dying uncounted in the latest political bloodletting. How can we as individuals Christians make any difference at all?
When Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44,
it sounds as if he has just finished listening to the most recent CNN report. He knew that we would face all kinds of trouble, because in fact Jesus faced those exact same troubles in his day. His own neighbors had a plan to throw him off a cliff and the religious authorities were constantly looking for ways to have him arrested. After Jesus taught that He was the Light of the World, they were ready to stone Him. But in spite of all these things Jesus understood the secret of the power of forgiveness. On the day He was crucified Jesus looked down from the cross to see only one of the twelve disciples with His mother and a few of the other women. Where were the five thousand who had been fed? Where were the hundreds who had been healed? Where were even His own brothers and sisters? Jesus was abandoned and in that moment of disgrace, humiliation and suffering He unleashed the most powerful weapon in Heaven’s arsenal. While horribly nailed to the cross Jesus chose a new path,
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. Luke 23:34
With those eleven simple words, Jesus unlocked the door of Salvation for anyone who heard Him or who heard His message to come. There is no hopeless nation, tribe or tongue that cannot be won through the power of His forgiveness. So let’s follow the advice of that converted terrorist named Saul of Tarsus (whom we today call Saint Paul)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good Romans 12:21
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation Luke 1:46-50
Christmas is about nothing greater than the mercy. In mercy God sent a star for wise men, angels for shepherds and light for people in darkness. In mercy God chose Bethlehem, the city of the shepherd David and in mercy God chose us to hear the same message of hope in the life of one child born in a dark stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
I know a little of the darkness of barns and remember walking every morning to the barn across the road long ago. First I would light a little stub of a candle and put it on the beam near the stall. Then I would put a little corn and hay into the feed-trough and gently wash the cow with warm water that I had brought over in the milk pail. In a quiet and humble place like that, our Lord Jesus was born among cattle and hay with maybe a barn cat or two to observe the scene. A young woman named Mary was giving birth alone in the stable but for her husband Joseph. In that moment the air was pierced by the cry of the child who came to give His life for our world.
Merry Christmas and God bless you with His mercy that still echoes from that generation to us today!
Luke 15:10 …But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy!
Mercy may seem, to the outside observer, the smallest of gifts; but to the one who receives it Mercy is:
A pint of blood from someone we never met
A handful of tissues when the tears are streaming down your face
An silent embrace when our world is falling apart
The light left on and the door unlocked when we least deserve being accepted back home