God’s Mercy vs. our Failures

July 29, 2014

…& mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...”  (Psalm 23:6)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God. This word is found 366 times in the Bible. (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His mercy & unconditional love every day of the year – & He covers Leap Year!)  Many people think we don’t hear about God’s mercy until the Sermon on the Mount; however, we find 280 mercy references in the Old Testament.

King David concludes Psalm 100 with the observation that God’s mercy is everlasting.  But my favorite Old Testament reference to God’s mercy is found at the end of Psalm 23.  David’s greatest Psalm ends with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him always.

The Hebrew word he uses for ‘follow’ can also be translated as ‘pursue.’  David brings the most profound description of the relationship between God & man to a conclusion by declaring the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life. By application this is true for all who confess, “the Lord is my Shepherd.”

There are many ways to fail. However, when we understand the meaning of God’s mercy we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail His mercy.  No matter what your failures have been God has sent you a message wrapped in this five letter word “mercy.”  The amazing message is that you did not win His love by a positive performance and you do not lose His love by a negative performance.  God’s love and acceptance of you is unconditional.  According to David, the mercy of God is not only there like a rock for you, but like a hound of Heaven God is pursuing you with His unconditional love and forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, Happiness that Doesn’t Make Good Sense

 


A Beautiful Word

August 28, 2012

“Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6 NLT)

Mercy is the unconditional love of God.  This beautiful word is found three hundred and sixty-six times in the Bible.  (Perhaps God wants us to know we need His unconditional love, every day of the year – and He even covers Leap Year!)  Many people think we don’t hear about the mercy of God in the Bible until we get to the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew.  However, two hundred and eighty of these references to the mercy of God are found in the Old Testament.

My favorite Old Testament reference to the mercy of God is found in the last verse of the Twenty-third Psalm.  David ends his greatest Psalm with the declaration that he is positively certain the mercy of God will follow him all the days of his life. The Hebrew word he uses here for “follow” is a word that can also be translated “pursue.”  David brings the most profound and eloquent description of the relationship between God and man ever written to a conclusion by making the declaration that the unconditional love of God will pursue him all the days of his life.  By application, this is true for any of us who will confess our sins.

There are so many ways to fail.  When we understand the meaning of the mercy of God, however, we should realize that we cannot possibly out-fail His mercy.  As I place my failures on a scale, I like to place all those times the Bible uses the word “mercy” on the scale opposite my failures.  I invite you to do the same thing no matter how horrible you think your sins are.


Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

June 27, 2012

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…” (Psalm 107: 1, 2)

Redemption means to get something back that has been lost.  It is similar in meaning to the word “rehabilitation” which essentially means “to invest again with dignity.”  I have quoted the first words of a marvelous hymn of redemption.  A thought that is repeated at the end of each of the five stanzas in this psalm is that those who have been redeemed by the Lord should step up and say so – gratefully giving thanks for the various ways in which they have been redeemed.

Levels or dimensions of redemption are profiled and each description ends with the charge that we thank the Lord for His goodness in redeeming us in this way.  God redeems us from our chaos when He finds us.  He then redeems us from our chains when He sets us free from our sins.

This is followed by the way He redeems us from our foolish and sinful choices.  He emphasizes our responsibility for bringing on the consequences of our sins.

He then describes the way God redeems us from our complacency by meeting us in our crises from which He redeems us when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do.   He agrees with Isaiah that God creates these crises (Isaiah 45:7).

Meditate on all these levels of redemption.  Ask God to continuously redeem you in all these ways.  As you reflect on each individual dimension of redemption step up and join the redeemed of the Lord in grateful worship. 

And say so…


A Bless His Name Prescription

March 14, 2012

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100: 4, 5)

In Hebrew culture names had great significance.  When parents named a child the name they chose often expressed their desire for the life of their child.  Sometimes the name was given to a child because certain events occurred surrounding the birth of the child.  The significance of names is especially important when we consider the names of God in the Bible – they tell us much about God.

In this short psalm we are instructed to praise the name of God.  We are to praise God because He is good.  Rick Warren told us life is like a railroad track.  The left rail represents this reality: there is always something negative in our life because God is more interested in our character than He is in our comfort.  The right rail represents this reality: there is always something good in our life because God is good and He loves us.

In this very short psalm we are instructed to bless the name of God by focusing His goodness, His everlasting mercy, and His enduring truth.  Mercy is His unconditional love and forgiveness.  That word is found 366 times in the Bible because God knew we would need it every day and He even included a year like this leap year.

If we read the Bible looking for truth we will discover truth that endures to all generations.  In the last verse of his shepherd psalm David informed us that the mercy of God pursued him like a hound of heaven.  Will you fill and take this prescription for blessing the name of God?


A Great Dynamic

February 10, 2012

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.”     (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The mercy of God withholds from us what we deserve and the grace of God bestows on us all kinds of wonderful blessings we do not deserve.  Grace is also the dynamic we must receive from God to do what He calls and leads us to do.  This is the most superlative verse about grace in the Bible.

It tells us that God is able to make all grace, not just some grace, abound toward us and not just trickle in our direction.  Then we may have all sufficiency, not just some sufficiency in all things, not just some things.  We are then equipped to abound, not just do our duty, as we do every good work He leads us to do, and not just the works we like to do, ALWAYS!

Twice in this verse Paul emphasizes the reality that this grace is for you – not just for the pastor or the missionary – but you!  Is this grace a reality in your journey of faith?

I once heard Dr. A. W. Tozer preach on this verse.  After he read the verse there was an eloquent pause and then he said, “Sometimes you cannot help but allow the thought that God oversold the product in the New Testament!” He then preached a powerful message challenging us to believe that God has not oversold His grace but we need to learn how to access His grace.

The hymn writer wrote, “The favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for those who will trust and obey…”

That is a good place to start.