May 30, 2021
BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL
Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (NIV)
Isn’t it wonderful to know that if you are Merciful you shall receive Mercy. But, what is this Mercy. How do we go about receiving it and how do we go about giving it?
The source of all Mercy is God the Father. There is no other source; there is no other place to find it. The only way to be a Merciful person is to have within us God-given Mercy. The source of Mercy is God, but it is only for the people moving through the four preceding Beatitudes. You may look at this whole process as an eight step program for sinners. The Beatitudes show us how to live as Christ lived, Love as Christ Loved, and we have to go at it one step at a time.
Jesus came as our Merciful High Priest. Hebrews 2:17 – For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (NIV)
The writer of Hebrews goes on to tell us that we can depend upon our Merciful High Priest because of the suffering He has withstood. Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
When Jesus was tested, tempted in the desert, by Satan, (Matthew 4:1-11) He was tested in every possible way: physically, psychologically and spiritually.
Just so you know, God has already poured out all the Mercy on us we will ever need. Dr. Donald Barnhouse put it this way: “When Jesus died on the cross, all the work of God for man’s salvation passed out of the realm of prophecy and became historical fact.” There is nothing more to be done for us in the area of Mercy. We have already been blessed with all we can ever need. Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (NIV)
So, let us look again at the short definitions of Mercy and Grace, we can understand what God has done: Mercy is not receiving what you deserve and Grace is receiving what you do not deserve. I believe all of us have been covered well in both categories.
Being Merciful leads toward the next Beatitude, Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (NIV) Many people try to relegate this Beatitude to only prophecy, or the future when we will see God in Heaven, in His Glory. But I say, as many do, that it is now that we can and will see God.
It may be a simplistic explanation, but every time I go outside I see God. Every time I see my Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren I see God. Every time I look around the Sanctuary at all of you sitting in the pews I See God. Now, I’m not saying I’m completely pure in heart, God is still working on me. But, I’m getting there and I like to think I’m far enough along that I can see God in everyone, whether they are my friend or not; whether they are a church member or not; whether they like me or not.
I like to think I can see God in everything around me. Sometimes in some of my better times I try hard to see God where I don’t expect Him. When you start seeing God in those around you that gives you more ability to show them Mercy.
1 John 3:1-3 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (NIV)
We are to purify ourselves he says. But that is something we cannot do completely for ourselves; that is why Jesus came in the first place. As we walk with God, listening each step of the way to the Holy Spirit, we will begin to become more and more Pure in Heart. I believe there are stages, levels or degrees of being Pure in Heart. I believe that as we walk closer with God, our hearts are purified more and more. As John Wesley put it, we are moving on to Sanctified. As this happens we see God more and more clearly.
John Wesley believed there are three different stages of Grace: Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace in this process of purification.
Prevenient Grace covers us from before we are born Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV)
So we are covered by Prevenient Grace until the moment we say yes to Christ as our Lord. At that moment we experience Justifying Grace, Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (NIV)
And then from here we move into and live in the cover of God’s Sanctifying Grace. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (NIV) In Christ we are constantly in a stage of “moving on unto Sanctification,” as John Wesley would say it.
As we move on toward and in Sanctification, our hearts become more and more Pure. They will be their purest when we finally reach heaven, and stand in the presence of God. No one’s heart is Pure, but God sees us as Pure in Heart because of the Blood of Christ. Now, for those of you who are purified by the Blood, look around and see God. Look at your brothers and sisters and see God.
Look in the mirror… and see God.
5/30/21 Bostwick UMC