Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh the Beauty of the Mercy of God

Here's a devotional I wrote for our church this week.

When I came to know Jesus Christ in October of 1986, the mercy of God was very precious to me. I had lived a rough life and certainly did not deserve the kindness God had poured upon me, but now that I’ve been walking with the Lord for twenty five years, I must say that his mercy has become all the more precious.
Why is this so? Simply because over the years I’ve had the privilege of seeing more shades of it, depths of it, and expressions of it in the Word of God, the history of the church, and my own life. The mercy of God has been made manifest in so many ways in my life, and in the world around me, that I feel breath-taken by the value and beauty of the God whose heart is filled with it.
And surely God is so infinitely saturated with mercy that he ceaselessly overflows with the same, both to the righteous and the unrighteous, the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45). In fact, mercy is so central to the character of God that he would cease to be God without it, for mercy is not merely an action God takes or a substance God distributes but something God is. Mercy is endemic to his being and an essential quality of life. Indeed, without the mercy of God life itself would be unthinkable, impossible.
Now, what precisely do I mean when I speak of the mercy of God? The mercy of God is that aspect of the character of God which compels him to forgive sin, forebear offense, and restore the offender to right relationship with himself when he or she rightly deserves judgment, punishment, and wrath. So while words like compassion, understanding, patience, kindness, and forgiveness are distinct from mercy, they together help us grasp its meaning.
But having said that I must hasten to say that defining mercy is like defining beauty: I suppose it’s necessary but definitions will never capture the essence of what it is. Mercy has to be received in order to be understood. It has to be felt in order to seem beautiful in our eyes.
So I want to encourage you today, in the words of the Psalmist, to open your mouths wide that God may fill you with the goodness and beauty and joy of his mercy in Jesus Christ (Psalm 81:10). Open your hearts to the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, and in so doing discover the heart of Christmas. If you will do this, I promise that you will come to that place with me where your soul honestly and instinctually cries out and says, “Oh how beautiful the mercy of God!”

Breath-taken by the mercy of God in Christ,
Pastor Charlie

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