Monday, January 30, 2017

Sermon notes- Words of Mercy; preached on 1.29.2017

We think of mercy as not giving someone what they deserve (if it is justice for what they have done; something unpleasant or hurtful) but there is more to it than that. I am going to focus today more on mercy with your speech than with your behavior.

In the Book of James in the Bible it is written;

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Jesus, in the Sermon He gave seated on a hillside early in Matthew to his small group of disciples, said;

Mt 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

God also said in other places that His will for us is for us to show mercy to others above religious obligation.

Ho 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Which Jesus confirmed;

Mt 9:13  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mt 12:7  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

We know from the Bible’s clear statements and our own lives that God is merciful. The first time mercy and merciful are used in the Bible are regarding God saving Lot’s life;

Ge 19:16  And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

Ge 19:19  Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

But, WE are called to show mercy, too, as followers of Christ. Many times preachers take something like mercy and elevate it to such a height that you and I cannot attain unto it. For you see, you will probably not be called upon to show mercy to a condemned prisoner or a wounded soldier on a battlefield. So, outside of NOT killing the neighbor’s dog for digging into your flowerbed is mercy just one of those high and lofty commands that don’t have much importance to you personally?

I want to repeat verses that apply directly to God’s children; those who have believed and trusted in Him.

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Mt 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Ho 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

And mercy isn’t just a bitter pill we are supposed to swallow to please God, Paul tells us in Romans 12:8 that we are to express mercy with cheerfulness.

8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Each of us is called to show mercy. Now, as I said you and I probably won’t be called on to show mercy to a condemned prisoner or some other extreme and dramatic and tragic case. Most of our mercy expressed will be within our families, our church, and our work.

You have the opportunity most often to show mercy with your words, by being kind, gentle, compassionate, and understanding not with sarcasm, snarkiness, bitterness, or accusations based on your paranoid and egotistical assumptions about another’s motives. You have the opportunity most often to show mercy to your spouse, your children, siblings, parents, coworkers, employees, neighbors, etc.

Are you merciful? Do you refrain EVER from rendering to someone the consequences you think they so richly deserve? Or must you have your proper respect, your props, regardless of who you hurt or how you hurt them in your righteous vengeance?

Remember, you who are faithful door knockers, tract hander-outers, those of you who bless every family event or outing of friends with incessantly talking about the horrors of Hell and how wonderful it is to be “saved” and as ‘in with God’ as you yourself are and why wouldn’t everyone want to be just like you? Remember, that how you act and treat other people is the biggest part of your witness, the most visible example of whether you actually have the fruit or proof of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, a more powerful voice than all efforts to try to sell Christ like insurance or hanging tracts on people’s doors like pizza coupons. (Try Christ! You’ll love Him. And this week at church if you bring a friend you’ll get free sausage and mushrooms!)

Don’t hide being jerk behind being a faithful church goer and soul winner.

Those of you who show up to church only when it’s convenient and participate in soul-winning activities IF and when to do so doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone the very same thing applies. You have to ask yourself if anyone would have enough evidence to even guess you are a born-again Christian since you won’t tell anyone about Christ lest you not get invited to family gatherings, hunting with friends, or approval at work. No matter what you want to do or not do you are a witness for Christ every time you go out in the world or interact with your family in your home.

A famous heathen once said, “Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

We know you’re an orange tree if you have oranges hanging from your branches. People should know you are a Christian and have the Holy Spirit indwelling you if you wear and bear this fruit.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Remember the last time your spouse or child did something that offended you, not just offended you, but that you were sure was a strike against you in some way. Maybe it called into question your authority in the home or showed contempt, you think, for some great effort you had put forth. Your words strike at the offender. You go right for the juggler. After all, it’s only justice, only fair considering how much contempt they’ve shown you.

And we don’t let these things go. Mercy, bitterness, compassion, these things are all related in their relationship to each other. I had a elder relative who said something to me after my daughter committed suicide and I still cringe over it. It was thoughtless but in keeping with an almost clinical lack of empathy for others’ pain. I’m still angry and hurt about it. But, the problem is, my that person is now dead. See how powerful these things you are holding in your heart are? How they last? Words spoken to you, thoughtless, cruel words, have a tremendous effect, especially when they come out of the mouth of someone you love and whose approval you desire.

In the husband and wife relationship the Holy Spirit, whom Paul is giving voice to here, admonishes husbands;

Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Is not a vengeful tongue a weapon of bitterness? Is not your unwillingness to show mercy and refraining from the hurt you want to bestow on someone who you think so richly deserves it with your words a sign that God’s mercy for YOU is absolutely necessary?

After all, God shows His mercy to people who don’t deserve it one stinking bit.

Ro 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And, in His everyday will He even benefits the heathen, the unbelieving pagan, and the malicious person.

Matthew 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And you, vile, depraved sinner on whom God showed mercy for your sexual immorality, your drunkenness, your faithlessness to every standard of goodness you were taught by your parents and teachers before you were saved and even after you believed, will not allow a merciful spirit in your heart for someone who said something to you that you aren’t even sure what they meant? You cut and lash and hurt with a tongue as sharp as a sword, as a knife?

Now, if you aren’t feeling comfortable with applying mercy to your personal dealings and view it as a grand doctrine only that applies only to judges, soldiers, and God Himself please note this;

Ps 37:21  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

A wicked person doesn’t pay his bills. But a righteous person goes beyond just paying his debts and gives his money liberally. Here’s more of the context of the passage.

Ps 37:21 ¶  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. 22  For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. 23  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. 25  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. 26  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

So, understand that applying mercy to your everyday existence is not out of order. It even applies to helping someone in difficult circumstances whether their fault or not as we saw from the previous passage. Remember the verses that many of us have memorized in Proverbs 3?

5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Well, here is what is before it.

1 ¶  My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3  Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4  So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

And again, with regard to what mercy can mean for us from the Bible.

Pr 14:21  He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

Pr 14:31  He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Showing mercy will bless you.

Pr 21:21  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Mercy is good for you. It elevates you and having a bitter, merciless attitude is extremely unhealthy. Here mercy is contrasted against being cruel.

Pr 11:17  The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

Now, I’ve been focusing on the mercy you show with your words being the expression of it. Or, more clearly, the words you don’t speak reflecting your willingness to show mercy. I want to take a little side trip for a second to define evil in the Bible. The word, evil, can mean many things based on the context.

Among other things evil can mean malicious intent, intent to do harm.

Ge 37:20  Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Ge 50:20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Ex 32:14  And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Here, with the tongue specifically.

1Pe 3:10  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

(Explain how to define evil and eschew here)

Now, notice the context of evil in these two verses; linked with malice, guile, hypocrisy, and envy in one and railing or ranting against someone in the other as in a railing accusation in 2Peter 2:11, to speak against someone as in rail on the Lord God of Israel in 2Chronicles 32:17.

1Pe 2:1  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

1Pe 3:9  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

And this warning about your tongue in the context of teachers (masters) causing people to stumble or be offended by the words they say. But, mark the warning about the tongue.

James 3:1 ¶  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3  Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

You who are of a meek and quiet spirit, who pride yourselves on not being harsh, physically cruel, and hot-tempered, are you merciful with your words? Do you prefer the sting of rebuke or to deliver the pain of hard words when you feel wronged or slighted?

Do you know how many children have been cut by hateful words of a parent, words they often carry with them for the rest of their lives? Do you know how many marriages have been weakened by unmerciful speech? Do you know how many friendships have been ended by giving someone just what you think they deserve with your words?

I know one of your Modus Operandi, your ways, “If you really loved me…or God…you wouldn’t have said, done, etc.” I know what you’re up to even if you pretend like you don’t. The submissive person has their own way of punishing someone for real or imagined slights.

What have you accomplished by not having a merciful spirit? The Bible says you troubled your own flesh. You certainly didn’t reflect God’s mercy on you.

You who are used to being in authority in your home, your business, or organizations. You Type A people, you know what the Discovery Channel and National Geographic call Alpha types. Those of you who demand your propers from everyone. Some of you can’t even let a child win a game you play because the thought of losing to anyone even to someone weaker than yourself is an affront to your massive ego and insecurity. Do you think you are not required to show mercy? Do you think that dominating others, your life’s passion, is higher than God’s commands in His word?

One of your M.O.’s goes something like this, “If you ever do what she did, why, I’ll….” You’re playing the verbal domination game. You have no evidence the person is guilty of something or even thinking about it but you are so mad at someone you can’t punish or who doesn’t care if you punish them you lash out at who is available to impress upon them how BIG you are compared to them.

When you are old and lying in a sickbed of death and the only people near you, you are certain, don’t love you but just fear your wrath, and the ones missing long ago convinced themselves they wanted nothing to do with you, do you realize that you are one pathetic, miserable, and lonely old person because you led a life with no regard for mercy. Oh, how alone, how frail you will be, longing for someone to stop by and show they care. But, sorry Charlie, you can only express your righteous wrath at people who should love you who don’t show you proper respect in your not so humble opinion for so long, before they scatter like birds.

An unmerciful life is a life not lived well, no matter how much success you think you’ve achieved or how right you are.

Words mean something. Mercy is important, more important even than your convictions, your sense of what is proper. Remember;

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

There are two things in the Bible that blood-bought, born-again, saved and sanctified, church-going, Christians often don’t give the importance they should. One, is that God holds His words above even His name, a name to which all will bow the knee. See Psalm 138:2.

The other is that mercy is a greater thing than even judgment.

Now, I want to add that I am separating mercy from forgiveness. Forgiveness from God includes restoration to fellowship with Him. Forgiveness for us can’t always include that. If you had an employee who stole money from your cash register you might forgive them but even if you kept them on you would be an idiot to put them back on the cash register. More dramatically, if a young boy or girl is sexually abused by an authority figure in their life; teacher, youth pastor, or even parent forgiveness cannot include restoration to the offender’s former role. That is a cruel expectation for someone who has been the victim of what some call “unfinished murder.”

Mercy, however, is something that is within our grasp. I have not delved into mercy for such egregious violations of standards of conduct; a thieving employee or a pervert predator. I am talking about what is within your grasp, in the hurts and wrongs, perceived or real, done to us by each other on a daily basis, things we hold onto sometimes for decades, and how we respond to people close to us with our words. We are more likely to face what I’ve talked about today in our daily lives and I hope and pray it helps you or at least makes you pause and consider the effect of your words on others.

But, remember, if there is anyone out there who has not trusted Christ and His righteousness for their salvation from an eternity of agony and the free gift of eternal life with God, you are going to have a hard time understanding why mercy is so important for Christians. God has been merciful to us, who are most undeserving of it, and we are called to show mercy to others.

Salvation is predicated upon belief. First, believing what Christ said about Himself, that He was God in the flesh. John 3:36 defines believing ON Christ as believing what He said. We then have in John 14 where Jesus says that He is the only way to God the Father and, in fact, to see Him is to have seen the Father. We have verses in Colossians and Hebrews that say that He is the visible image of the invisible God. We have verses like in Romans 10 that says we must believe that He rose from the dead to be saved and to call on His name, confessing to God that we believe. We have verses in Hebrews 6 telling us that we have to turn from what we think has been justifying us, say your race, your religious denomination, your country, your culture, whatever, and turn toward God. We have;

Ac 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...

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