Mercy denied is our worst offense

Nothing makes me more interested in mercy than a deepening awareness of my sin. Considering how God should treat me, mercy makes no sense and yet all the all the sense in the world. It makes me cling to God and live according to His judgments because I have seen the unmistakable beauty of His character acting upon me from yhr beginning.

If we misjudge mercy as a little thing we have committed a crime worse than all the sins that first thrust us upon this quality of God. On the other hand, if we assume that mercy is to high a judgment to bridge the gap between us and God, than we do not really have any idea of how much better God is than us.

Where mercy is provided we must not question its relativity but throe ourselves head-long upon it. If there is no hope of it being applied to us, than we truly have nothing else.

If mercy be withheld from us, then we would be back to relying on the merits of our own behavior. If this is what we have to go back on, then our cause is already death — all of our work having already been set as further evidence against us. Sinners born and sinners condemned were ever only sinners dead.

But regardless of our demerrits, mercy stands ready to release us from what we deserve and prepare us for grace which delivers what we don’t deserve. Mercy is guaranteed to we who seek it because Sinless Judge has a Son who is just like Him. The Son needed no mercy from His Father, but chose to step into the place of judgment, taking our position and our vile punishment by declining the mercy so freely available to Him.

Mercy does not depend us but to be welcomed. It cannot be obtained in any other place but where judgment is passed down and carried out not on us but on Christ. We will miss it entirely if we try to find other than on our knees, bending low before the cross that put the death-opposed in the grave for us. There we discover that we are free and now alive when we receive the One who rose from the depths of hell to introduce us to His Father once our Judge but now our closest Friend.

Spotting the blessed life hidden in the pages of a Book I’ve never lived

Are you looking for the blessed life? So am I — yet, as much as I want it, I really don’t know much about what it looks like or how one gets there. But, God knows we want it, and He is determined to show us all that we need to know about it so that we can experience it. He sat me down tonight and began to reveal a few things to me through the words of Psalm 119 — what I would normally look at as a very intimidating chapter of Scripture for both its intense admonitions and exceptional length. Tonight was different, though.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD (verse 1).

It does not say, “blessed are they whose way is bleakest” as I usually like to think. The world pities the sinner whose “lot” in life is tough and so I gladly put myself in that place to¬† receive whatever it can give me. I hope to soon be recognized as patient and deserving of a raise in position and profit, but God expects so much more in a blessed designation — one that brings primary glory to Him and not the troubles swirling in my life. He is eternal, but they are in no way His competition for endurance or significance.

Here we see that Scripture does not automatically recognize the down-trodden as the deity-toting. He clearly judges our hearts, detecting the sin that keeps us from honoring Him, even when our earthly audience would just as readily offer us a prize for just living through a hard time.

Trouble and sorrow are no guarantee that God will intervene and turn things around for a person. How often do we assume we know God because we have some divine idea of what good should look like in our rebel-addicted lives!

Yet our confident assumptions do nothing for us when it comes to getting us near the truth and freedom from the bondage of an un-blessed life.

The truth — being far above anything else that is pleasing in this world — is what gets us beyond the hopeless realities of our world. A fresh taste of what attention, popularity, recognition or sexual pleasure can do for us promises instant happiness that only runs skin deep. Each of these things leaves us feeling more tense than when we started their joy-ride if they must bear the weight of all our expectation of bliss and fulfillment. After all, they make poor substitutes for what we were meant to have in lives centered on the undying pleasure and ever-increasing peace of knowing and relating to Christ.

Now, the blessed life has another characteristic that holds the first and the third (upcoming) characteristic in check for us. We find it in the second verse of Psalm 119:

Blessed are they who keep his commandments and seek him with all their heart.

A lot of times in my life I have heard the encouragement to seek God, but with no idea of where to go with that. The words didn’t sink into me very deeply because they had no weight in knowledge and conviction to pull them down to the lowest places of my soul — what makes up who I am and the way I do life.

The Word of God didn’t accomplish a lot of change in my life because I needed it to correct my heart to be something I could see as being truly “good” for me. Correction may not sound like the mark of any blessed person that you know, but without its strength and unshakable ability we would never be able to obey God. It is only when we obey God that the blessings of the holy life are borne out in us by the Holy Spirit with fruit that is described, in our third and final snapshot, this way:

They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me (verses 3-8).