Rich In Mercy

When we consider Paul’s word to Ephesus in 2:4~But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (ESV) The phrase rich in mercy leaps from the page reminding us of the contrasting condition a believer had before they came to Christ and how they are renewed and repurposed after responding to the Lord’s call. It shares a beautiful word picture that reminds us of how God is full of mercy. (Obadiah 1:15) 

Do you know the name of the shortest book in the Old Testament? (Hint our talk offers 2 choices) Obadiah is but a single chapter, a vision culminating in 21 powerful verses. Written during the time of King Ahaz who reigning from 735-715 BC, not much older than many of you kids, he was 20 reigning for 20 years. Unfortunately, he was one of the ten wicked kings in Judah’s ever-rolling cycle of evil to revival. Do you live like that, good weeks and bad weeks? He follows Hezekiah, a really good king, except for the last 15 years that he lived after God answered his prayer. (2Kings 20:2-6)

Both Obadiah and Micah are contemporaries who proclaim a message of mercy. With the smallest footprint and short delivery, Obadiah is long in guidance for our lives. Here is the setup. Do you know Father Abe? What was his son’s name? Isaac. Isaac is a digger of wells who has 2 sons named Jacob and Esau. I mention this because, throughout history, the Jewish people have cried out for water, both physical and spiritual water. We see this with Jesus at the well in John 4 as He talks with the well-married woman at the well saying John 4:14~but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (NIV)

What is this well? It’s salvation. In Obadiah’s vision, we read a prophetic fall of Edom. He shares that even though they are going to be handed over to suffer punishment for sin, there is still hope for reconciliation. Kids have you ever thought your parents were so mad, life was over? That’s why God gives us hope for our future. Many scholars believe Obadiah to be a convert to Judaism, thus he confronts his own nation about its arrogance and the treatment of its brother, Israel. I’ve had that lecture myself and even given it to Luke and Levi before. It can be helpful to read Biblical stories of the nations like the life of people. Here two brothers are at odds and fighting. When a loving Father steps in and calls out their behavior and points them in the right direction. 

Whether foreign-born, as a distant relative, or a Jew, it is Obadiah who hides the Lord’s prophets in the cave and supplies them with food, as Jezebel is on a killing rampage. (1 Kings 18) As a prophet married to the message, they must see it through to the end. Obadiah 1:15~The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. (ESV) God’s you’re going to get back what you gave. That doesn’t sound good, but justice always prevails, therefore we need to know God is rich in mercy.

I want you to know that God wants to supply all of our needs, but we must first turn to Him in humility and accept His mercy found in Jesus. That is why we are told through the scriptures to seek God who is rich in mercy. Today, you may have a need that is overwhelming you or a friend and you are shouldering it alone. I want you to know that you do not have to. God will take every burden we give Him. 1 Peter 5:7~Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT) What is in your life that you need to give to God so that you can process where you are and all that you are dealing with and become the healthy, well-adjusted believer God wants you to be? Let go of it today and allow God to help you. I bet He has even put you on other people’s hearts to pray for you and to help lift you up. Trust God, with everything.

Admittance of Guilt

Our world is ailing, crying out for healing and forgiveness, though most want it without confession. Why? Because confession is an admittance of guilt. Kids, do you tell your parents when you are wrong? Nobody likes to be guilty. Our world wants nolo contendere—a defendant’s plea in a criminal prosecution accepting conviction as though a guilty plea is entered, but without admitting guilt. God doesn’t work that way. As we turn our attention to Obadiah and Micah we hear a cry for God’s people to be merciful. Just as He is merciful. For mercy has drawn us to God and it will draw others into a relationship with a just and loving God also.

So, let me ask you, Who is like our God? (Micah 7:14-20) Can you name anyone who is like our benevolent and loving God? Rich in mercy and longsuffering in our woeful ways of living. Micah 7:18~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. (ESV) Does that sound like you? Let me ask you, What is the story of the Bible? Some say the Old Testament dwells on judgment and the New Testament is only about Jesus Christ and His love. If we hold this type of view of the Bible we hold a skewed view of God. 

Malachi 3:6~I the LORD do not change. So you, descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (NIV) Therefore the God of love we see in the New Testament must also be present in Old Testament. The Bible holds that God is a God of love, who offers an opportunity for change. In the prophecy of Amos, he gives Judah 100 plus years to correct things. That is a gift of love. Remember God is a loving Father who is teaching His children, which is often referred to as herding cats, to love. Are you a cat-like kid? 

Another example is found in the city of Nineveh. Where God sends a prophet to the nations to share how to avert impending judgment. You know the story about a guy who tells God no, soaks up the smells of a stomach only to be vomited up to share God’s love. We need to know and be aware that the only people who’ll be in hell, are those who choose hell for themselves. How do you choose hell? By rejecting God and living in sin. Because if we live in sin, there is a punishment needed to reconcile our account. Your nature question, Why? Because God is a just God, and justice holds both reward and punishment, two sides of the same coin. The reward for righteousness and also the punishment for sin. 

That is why God calls us today to be merciful as he is merciful. Luke 6:36~Be (γίνομαι ginomai) merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (NIV) (γίνομαι ginomai) can also be rendered become, and is defined as to come into existence, or to begin to be. Isn’t that beautiful, when we are called by the Father (John 6:44) to come to Christ, drawn in by the Holy Spirit to salvation, where we confess and believe (Acts 10:9) in the one and only begotten Son of God who atones for our sins. This is the work of God being merciful towards sinners. 

Again, I ask you, Who is a God like our God? No-one! For He is rich in mercy. So, how is God reworking parts of your life in His own image? If (γίνομαι ginomai) be, can also be rendered as become, or to begin to be, how are your becoming all God has created you to be, and are you doing all that God has planned for you to do? Why not take time to ask the Lord today, Lord help me become the person you had in mind when you were sitting at your workbench and formed and fashioned a life for me. (Ephesians 2:10) Then sit silently, with your mind focused on Him, your ears open and ready to listen, and your heart ready to respond. Today is going to be a great day as the Lord shares with you. Remember, the journey through life and faith is taken in small steps.

God of Justice

When you think of mercy, what comes to mind? Compassion. Where in life we are hurting or have a need that we are unable to fix and need a dose of mercy’s compassion to fix what ails. Perhaps you jump straight to forgiveness because of the tremendous weight a guilty conscience brings to bear. Pleading for forgiveness lest punishment is levied upon you. To grasp mercy means we recognize a need greater than ourselves. The creator and sustainer of our world Elohim, God, is a just God, who passes out justice, a 2-sided coin with both the reward of righteousness and the punishment of sin. So, how do we get right with God? Jesus.

Amos 5:24~Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (NLT) As believers, we are to live righteous lives and respond with mercy for those unjustly oppressed. This has become a truly hot and sensitive topic, filled with much tension over the last few years. Where silent protests on knees took aim at a flag and airwaves were filled with pariahs pontificating. In many cities, the conversation turned ugly, destructive, and grew divisive. This turned attention away from dialogue and discussion to focus on platitudes rather than real change. 

Understand, lasting change is only wrought in our lives and in our world when Jesus rules and reigns in our hearts. Jesus is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. (Revelation 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Daniel 2:47; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:5; Matthew 28:18, Acts 10:36) And when Jesus, as the King and chief representative comes near, the Kingdom of God has come near. (Luke 11:20, Matthew 12:28) 

As we move about our world, we who are believers, bring the Kingdom of God near to those who find themselves in dire straights. No, not the British Sultans of Swing, but rather those who are in need of God’s mercy. So, what is mercy? Well, it is defined biblically as the love that responds to human needs in an unmerited or unexpected way. At its core, mercy is forgiveness. (Luke 11:20, Matthew 12:28) James 5:15~And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. (NIV) Do you hear mercy at work healing ailments and forgiving sin? 

Is there a tender place in your life today, that needs a little mercy? Then why not confess your shortcomings and failures as you ask God who is rich in mercy to reach down and touch your need today. As you seek Him, respond to the things the Holy Spirit puts on your heart. He may even put a person on your heart who is hurting, and He is sending you to them to help share His unfailing mercy with. Let the Lord use you today.