Biblical Messages

Caught!

When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus, they were expecting a judgment.  What they got was quite different!  But there’s a twist to the way many people read this beloved story.  Watch or listen below to “Caught!”, based on John 8.1-11.

The LifeConnect Group discussion questions can be found here: 2018 11 18 lcg questions

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Uncategorized

Advice from a mentor: 1. Accept mercy

In this new series on 1 Timothy, we are going to learn how the advice of the apostle Paul affected Timothy, whom he mentored, and how it can help us walk with the Lord in our time.

We are grateful that God is merciful, and gracious.  Do we accept these?  That’s Paul’s advice to Timothy, and to us.  Based on 1 Timothy 1, you can listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Grace and mercy

Since my friend Matthew Ruttan wrote about grace this morning, I feel inspired to offer a word or two about mercy, grace’s companion in the Christian life.

Grace is getting what you don’t deserve – unmerited favour, like (as Matthew so brilliantly said) dissing a cashier, finding that your debit card was rejected, and then finding the cashier paying for your order.  That’s grace: getting what you don’t deserve.

Mercy, on the other hand, is not getting what you do deserve.  I’ll admit that it’s a little bit less popular (okay, a whole lot less popular) to talk about mercy than grace.  Grace is always framed in the positive, while mercy tends to be framed in the negative.  But each is equally important if we are to understand the Christian life.

Mercy is harder for us to swallow because, for the most part, we tend to think that we can’t possibly deserve something bad enough that it needs to be held back from us.  After all, we might think, we give to the church, we help little old ladies cross the road, we haven’t killed anybody (yet).  Surely that means we’ve ducked from punishment, right?

Honestly, that’s not how the Christian life works.

Put simply, a holy God requires perfection, apart from which perfect sacrifice is necessary.  This is what we see portrayed in the Old Testament.  Humanity has been in rebellion from God since our first parents disobeyed.  Yet only once did God flood the earth and effectively decide to start again.  How many time since must God have wanted to obliterate the human race and hit the reset button?!  But he has not done that.

No.  God has shown mercy.  He has not given us what we deserve.

The beautiful part of salvation is that grace becomes the icing on the cake.  When Jesus died for our sins and rose again to bring us eternal life, that was the greatest example of grace ever given:  we got what we didn’t deserve.  And we got it because we didn’t get what we did deserve.  We received mercy.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of this makes me fall on my knees in gratitude!  God has spared us when we deserved death.  God has saved us when we deserved nothing.  This idea isn’t intended to make us feel lower than a snake’s belly; it’s intended to remind us of the wonder of God and his kindness in extending both mercy and grace to us.  May you express your gratitude to God today!

Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy” (1 Peter 2.10, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Giving thanks for mercy and grace

As followers of Jesus, we throw around a lot of words that don’t show up in everyday society – or, at least, their definitions differ from those applied by the world around us.  I’d like us to consider two of those words:  mercy and grace.

In general, the word mercy doesn’t show up in everyday lingo very much.  In sports, we sometimes think of a “mercy” rule, wherein a game is finished early because one team is beating the tar out of another team, and a turnaround doesn’t seem remotely possible.  In childhood play, if we wrestle with a sibling or a friend, and one gets the other in some sort of locked position, there might be a requirement to “cry ‘mercy’” in order to be let go.  These concepts of mercy fall short, though, don’t they?  One seems more like sympathy, and the other more like submission.  So what is mercy, really?

For the Christian, when we talk about God’s mercy, we refer to not receiving what we deserve.  So what do we deserve?  What does Scripture say?  “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6.23a, NLT).  God’s standard is perfection, and we fail to be perfect; we sin every day (well, speaking personally, anyway).  The wages of sin is death:  that’s what we deserve.  But one of the key characteristics of God is that God is merciful.  He does not give us what we deserve.  We are spared from death by his mercy in Jesus Christ.

In the world, grace tends to be seen as either something that has to do with how a lady carries herself – graceful – or a prayer that is said before Thanksgiving dinner.  Though grace is a decidedly God-oriented word, it isn’t often used that way.  Sometimes, we use the words mercy and grace interchangeably, but they really aren’t.

For the Christian, to receive grace is to receive what we do not deserve.  It’s unmerited favour from God.  My favourite acronym for grace, as a good definition, is, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”.  So what is it that we do not deserve?  What does Scripture say?  “…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6.23b, NLT).  Grace is God’s gift – eternal life.  We don’t deserve it, but by faith in Jesus and his death and resurrection, we receive eternal life as a gift.  We can’t earn it, no matter how hard we try.  Nothing we do, good or bad, can bring us grace.  We don’t deserve it, and we can’t deserve it in anyway.

Mercy:  not receiving what we deserve.  Grace:  receiving what we don’t deserve.  God is gracious and merciful toward us.  In Jesus, we receive mercy and grace.  What better reason to give thanks do we need?!

Biblical Messages

The Light of Justice

The prophet Micah calls God’s people to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord (Micah 6.8).  When I initially prepared to preach this text, on the light of justice, I was going to focus principally on the poor; the tragic events of this past Friday, however, furnished me with a profound illustration of what God’s Word can say to even the most contemporary situations.

Based on Micah 6.1-8, you can listen to this message by clicking here.