Consider this world we live in…are we living lives that are showing mercy and grace to others? Do we see mercy and grace being given and received in the world around us? What are your views on this? Should it be more visible? Should it be less visible?
Let’s take a look at the definitions and as we read them consider which side of the equation we are on and how we would feel if we happened to be on the other side? Will it impact how we live our lives out today?
Mercy is defined as…
compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
And has synonyms of…
leniency · clemency · compassion · grace · pity · charity · forgiveness · forbearance · quarter · humanity · soft-heartedness · tenderheartedness · kindness · sympathy · liberality · indulgence · tolerance · generosity · magnanimity · beneficence
Grace is defined as
the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Day 15: Bible In One Year 2017 - Psalm 9:13-20, Matthew 12:1-21, Genesis 31
Two additional words to consider on our journey today are justice and righteousness. We know God who is sovereign happens to be just and righteous and will in the end at the judgment seat judge everyone of us!
Justice is defined as
just behavior or treatment. (Just is defined as based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair)
and has synonyms of
Righteousness is defined as
the quality of being morally right or justifiable
So as we consider these words are they thing you think can come together or are opposites? When you think of mercy, grace, justice, righteousness are there some that go together and some that don’t? Can we show someone both mercy and justice? Can we show it to them at the same time?
Well, if we are supposed to be mirroring God, the answer should be yes. We know that God is a God of justice and a God of mercy and if He can do both, we should be able to as well. Jesus has made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! Jesus sacrificed in order that we could receive both!
Today’s devotional from Day 15 of Bible In One Year 2017 shares this interesting illustration, so let’s take a look together…
Two people went through school and university together and developed a close friendship. Life went on and they went their separate ways and lost contact. One went on to become a judge, while the other’s life spiralled down and he ended up as a criminal. One day the criminal appeared before the judge. He had committed a crime to which he pleaded guilty. The judge recognised his old friend and faced the dilemma, which, in effect, God faces.
He was a judge so he had to be just; he couldn’t simply let the man off. On the other hand, he wanted to be merciful, because he loved his friend. So he fined him the correct penalty for the offence. That was justice. Then he came down from his position as judge and wrote a cheque for the amount of the fine. He gave it to his friend, saying that he would pay the penalty for him. That was an act of mercy, love and sacrifice.
The illustration is not an exact one. Our plight is worse – the penalty we face is death. The relationship is closer – your Father in heaven loves you more than any earthly parent loves their child. And the cost is greater. It cost God far more than money – he came himself, in the person of Jesus, and paid the penalty of sin.
God is not soft on crime. In his justice, God judges us because we are guilty. Then in his mercy and love he comes down in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, and pays the penalty for us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God is both just and merciful.
Jesus is the truth, the way, and the light! Jesus paid it all! He took on the weight of the world to open up a door for us to be able to reconciled to God even though what we deserve because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the penalty for this is death, but instead we receive mercy from God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Have you invited Jesus into your life and into your heart? Have you received the gift of God through Jesus? We each face the choice of deciding that on our own and when we do, we are transformed because the old is gone and the new has come! Jesus helps us to become more and more like Him! And because of His sacrifice, we can be seen by God through a different lense thanks to the blood and sacrifice of Jesus!
Today’s devotional gives us three things we can do with this knowledge…
1. Rely on the justice of God
2. Receive the mercy of Jesus
3. Rejoice in the sacrifice of God
In Psalm 9, we see how David relies on the justice of God…
13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may declare your praises
in the gates of Daughter Zion,
and there rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
20 Strike them with terror, Lord;
let the nations know they are only mortal.
–from Psalm 9
How do you think of the word JUSTICE? Is it something positive or something negative? Is it negative because it is about punishment? Is it positive because it makes things right? it rights a wrong?
In this world there are a lot of people who put on a tough front. In many cases the reality is there is a sensitive and fragile part to them too. That tough front was because of something that had happened to them and so trying to keep themselves from further hurt, they try to build up a wall to keep people from getting close enough to be able to love and care for them.
We are to go beyond just going thru the motions and step up to the higher calling of Jesus! We are to go beyond just pursuing justice, but also looking for the opportunity of giving mercy too! In today’s reading from Matthew, we see how Jesus combines mercy and justice! We also see how Jesus has come to fulfill the old testament!
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbathand yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
God’s Chosen Servant
15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”
–from Matthew 12
So are you at a time in your life where you are feeling fragile? Turn to Jesus who will handle you with care! Are you around people who are feeling fragile? Will you be God’s hands extended and help them by handling them with care? Let’s live our lives without f.e.a.r. and in reverence and praise to God who loves us so much that He sent Jesus who made it possible for justice and mercy to intersect like it does at the cross!
Today’s devotion poses the following questions…
Have you ever experienced a promise of promotion that never came, or spent countless wasted hours working late to complete some thankless task? Have you ever been the victim of envy, false accusation or downright deception?
These remind me of a story…
The great news is that God is in charge! The great news is that God gets the last word! The battle belongs to the Lord! So we can forgive as we have been forgiven! Thanks to Jesus, no matter how big or bad what we did was, we can be forgiven! So if we can be forgiven we can forgive! As we forgive others, God will forgive us! It’s a gift that keeps on giving! However we judge, whatever the measure, that same measuring device will be used against us! So why not take hold of the truth that sets us free and live out our lives to glory God in Jesus’ name!
Let’s review today’s reading from Genesis and consider how much of it resonates with us individually…
Jacob Flees From Laban
31 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5 He said to them, “I see that your father’sattitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wagesten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.
10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”
14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21 So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods?”
31 Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32 But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.
35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.
36 Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “How have I wronged you that you hunt me down? 37 Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relativesand mine, and let them judge between the two of us.
38 “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 39 I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. 40 This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41 It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”
43 Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? 44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.
48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.”That is why it was called Galeed. 49 It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.”
51 Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. 53 May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”
So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.
55 Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
–from Genesis 31
So how can we in our lives come to a resolution? How can we find justice and mercy together in the midst of life? Turn to God! Bring Jesus into your heart! Forgiveness!