THE MERCY OF GOD
Mercy is God’s Nature, God’s Character
If someone were to ask you to describe your father, you would probably say things like he is tall or average height, dark or fair in complexion, likes jazz music, enjoys watching documentaries, has a good sense of humor or he is very strict, he is a disciplinarian. In Matthew 6:9, God is referred to as Our Father in Heaven. In Matthew 6:29 He is called Heavenly Father and Ephesians 4:6 calls Him God and Father of all. So, if someone were to ask you to describe God, our Father in heaven, what would your answer be? One of the key attributes of God is that He is merciful. There’s no way you can talk about who God is, what God is like and not refer to the mercy of God. You can’t talk about how God relates with people, how God responds to situations and not say something about the mercy of God. Mercy is a vital part of God’s character. Merciful is who God is, merciful is God’s name. In 1 Corinthians 1:3, God is called the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort.
Luke 6:36 tells us that just as God, Our Father is merciful in His dealings with mankind, we too His children, should be merciful in the way we relate and deal with people.
When we say God is merciful, we are simply saying that God is a forgiving God. God doesn’t keep a long list of the things we have done to offend Him and keep referring to the list every now and then. God doesn’t find it difficult to forgive people. God gives us not just another chance, but many chances, many opportunities to repent and turn away from our sinful ways. This is mercy in action. God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), He is generous and liberal with His forgiveness. God forgives like no earthly father does (Micah 7:18-19, Isaiah 1: 18-19).
When we say God is merciful, we mean that God does not deal with us according to our sins, the kind of life we live, the wrong attitudes we frequently display. He isn’t quick to give us the punishment we deserve (Psalm 103:10-12, Nehemiah 9:18-19). He is slow to anger. He puts up with a lot of our failings, weaknesses and shortcomings. His mercy makes Him exercise a lot of restraint when dealing with us. God is a Consuming Fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29), yet because of His mercy, He doesn’t lose His temper easily, fly off the handle and instantly send fire, thunder and brimstone to do away with us (Psalm 145:8, Exodus 34:6-7). God is a fierce Lion, He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), but His mercy keeps Him from ripping us to pieces when we sin against Him and offend Him.
When we say God is merciful, it means God abounds in love and is good to all, even those that don’t know Him or care about Him. He freely gives and shows love to all people. There’s so much love in God for everyone irrespective of age, tribe, nationality, status and position in society. Some people find it easy to love and associate with only people from their own tribe, some others only people who belong to a particular social class. Not God! His love reaches to everyone no matter who you are, no matter how you look, no matter what you have or don’t have. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works (Psalm 145:9).
When we say God is merciful, we are referring to the compassionate heart of God. God is full of compassion (Psalm 116:5, Psalm 145:8). He feels deeply the pain and suffering people are going through (Hebrews 4:15) and moved by His love and mercy, He arises to do something about their situation. You can feel sorry for someone and not do a thing about what the person is going through. God doesn’t just feel sorry for people or pity people going through tough times. His heart goes out to them (Luke 7:12-15). Moved by compassion, He does something to change the situation of the unsaved (Mark 6:34), the sick (Matthew 14:13-14, Matthew 20:30-34), the hungry, those experiencing lack (Isaiah 49:10), those oppressed and suffering (Isaiah 30:18, Isaiah 49:13). When your situation changes from unsaved to saved, sick to healed, single to married, barren to fruitful, unemployed to employed, poor to wealthy and prosperous, the mercy of God has located you. The compassionate heart of God has been opened to you.
Mercy is God’s sovereign choice. God shows mercy to whomever He decides to show mercy and no one can fault, question or invalidate His choice of whom to show mercy (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:18). God doesn’t depend or rely on man’s recommendation for whom to show mercy. God doesn’t seek people’s opinion about who He should show mercy to. If He did, there would be no hope for people like Paul, rapists, terrorists, murderers and many people we believe belong in the hottest part of hell, yet God in His mercy has continued to reach out to such people and bring them into the Kingdom of God.
God’s Mercies Are New Every Morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)
If someone were to ask you, what does your dad usually do in the morning? Some people will say he does his morning devotion, some others he listens to a particular radio program. Some will say my dad reads the newspapers. While some others will say he goes for his morning exercise; jogging or walking. How about our Father in heaven? What does God’s typical morning look like? God starts the day by extending mercy to mankind.
For God’s mercies to be new every morning not some mornings, not occasionally, but every morning, it means that God is consistently merciful. God’s mercy doesn’t fade away, reduce or dwindle with the passing of time. God was merciful yesterday, He was merciful last year, He was merciful 50 years ago, He was merciful over 2000 years ago. This is who God has been, this is who God is, this is who God will forever be- a God of mercy and compassion. Over the years, God has faithfully and consistently kept to His ‘early morning routine or schedule’ of waking people up with His mercy. It is divine mercy, not your security guard, not your alarm clock, not the birds chirping in the morning or the cock that crows in the morning that brings you into a new day. So when you wake up in the morning, appreciate and celebrate the mercy of God over your life that has made you see a new day.
For God’s mercies to be new, not the same every morning, it means God’s mercy has many dimensions. There are many sides to the mercy of God. God keeps unfolding, revealing and displaying new and different aspects of His mercy. With each new day, He looks for different ways to show us how merciful He is. God’s mercy is not confined and limited to His forgiveness of sins. For most people, when we think of God’s mercy, all that comes to mind is that God’s mercy is something we ask for when we are praying for forgiveness of sins. God’s mercy is much more. God may have shown you His mercy yesterday by forgiving you for sins committed. The following day, God can show you an aspect of His mercy that relates to an area of your life that has nothing to do with sin. It could be in the area of your marriage, finances or a trip you are about to undertake. God’s mercies are new every morning, God’s mercy is plentiful; you can’t exhaust God’s acts of mercies.
For God’s mercies to be new every morning, it means God has given us something special to start each day; He has given us the gift and blessing of His mercy for each new day. Someone will say, what’s so special about the day if I wake up in the morning and there’s no money to eat, I don’t have a job, I‘m still single after all my prayers, fasting and vigils, nothing seems to be working in my life. During Job’s time of trial that was how many of Job’s mornings were. We see in James 5:11 that all Job had going for him when he woke up in the morning, was the mercy of God. He had lost his children, huge sums of money, his business, his possessions, everything. But Job didn’t lose the mercy of God, the mercy of God didn’t depart from him. The mercy of God eventually ended his nights of weeping and brought him into his morning of joy.
God’s mercy is God’s way of saying, arise and shine. Wake up, get up, go out bed, go and face the day. Don’t lie down in bed depressed and refuse to get up and do anything worthwhile because nothing seems to be working or going on well in your life. Face the day with the mercy of God. God’s mercy is God’s booster for the day, something to strengthen and energize us to start and face the day. You are blessed, your day is blessed because you didn’t start the day empty; you started it with the mercy of God. And God’s mercy is sufficient for whatever that day brings, whatever unfolds that day.
So whatever it is you are going through today, tell yourself I refuse to be depressed because I don’t have a job, all my friends are married and I am still single. I refuse to lie down tired and frustrated with life because I don’t have a child or a car. I refuse to turn away from God because I can’t see the answers to my prayers. I arise and face the day knowing that there’s something special to accompany me and help me through this day. I have the mercy of God with me, and if that is all I have for this day, for this season of my life, I have more than enough.
No matter how bad your today may be, as long as you have the mercy of God with you, things will eventually turn around for your good.
A call to Obtain or Receive Mercy
In Hebrews 4:16, God calls out to us to come boldly, to come confidently to His throne of grace, to receive mercy. Who are those God is calling out to, God is encouraging to take a bold step and come and receive mercy?
1. Those who have sinned and messed up. This was the position David found himself when he committed adultery and murder. He went before God and cried out to God ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your loving kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions’ (Psalm 51:1). Some people will say well, this doesn’t really apply to me, I haven’t done anything bad like committing adultery and murder. To obtain the mercy of God, we need to do away with all forms of self-righteousness. God’s mercy is for the humble and sincere. Not those who see everything wrong and sinful in other people, but are blind to their own sins and weakness. Those who obtain God’s mercy, don’t come before God with an attitude of I don’t drink, smoke, take drugs, cheat or womanize. I am always in church, I fast a lot, I regularly pay my tithes. The Pharisee that prayed this kind of prayer, didn’t receive anything from God. It was the man who knew he was still work in progress, there were still areas of his life that needed refining and correcting, and humbly prayed to God to look upon him with mercy that saw God’s face of mercy.
1 John 1:8-9 says if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. Yes, we may not have committed murder or adultery, but we must always bring our lives under God’s search light for Him to search us and show us the things we have done or are doing that we need to repent of and receive God’s cleansing and mercy (Psalm 139:23-24).
Whatever we have done, no matter how many times we have said I will never do it again, yet we have gone back to it, God is ready to pardon us (Nehemiah 9:17). But this is not a divine permit for us to continue in sin. We can’t take God’s mercy for granted, do anything we like, out rightly offend God under the guise that He is a merciful God, He will surely forgive. When we think of how forgiving God is, the number of times he has forgiven us, the kind of things we have done and He has forgiven, this should move us to surrender our lives to God as living sacrifices. It should make us yield our all to God to serve Him and live our lives for His glory (Romans 12:1). It was the mercy God showed Paul after all the terrible things he did to Christians and the church of God that made Paul surrender his life to God, to serve God with everything in him (1 Timothy 1:15-16). The way to show that we see God’s mercy at work in our lives, appreciate what God’s mercy has done for us, where it has taken us from, is to give our all to God. This is the appropriate response to God’s mercy, not to take His mercy as a free ticket to sin simply because we have a forgiving and merciful God.
The mercy of God should make us worship and praise God intensely, passionately and sincerely for how forgiving and kind God is to us. It was the shameful and abominable things God forgave the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-47 for that made her come and wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair and anoint His feet with fragrant oil. This was a deep act of worship. It was her way of saying thank You for being merciful to me. This was her way of worshipping God for who He is; a God of mercy and compassion.
In view of God’s mercy; in view of all the sins and iniquities God has forgiven us for, we should bless the Lord with our souls and everything in us (Psalm 103:1-3), not take God’s mercy as a license to deliberately wallow in the mud of sin, telling ourselves whatever I do, God will come and pick me up and forgive me. This is abuse and misuse of the mercy of the God.
2. Those who need divine protection from the dangers, evil and calamities moving around (Psalm 57:1-3)
We live in dangerous times. Times of bomb blast, terrorist attacks, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers operating in broad day light. On a daily basis cultist, ritualist and witches meet to plan how they can cause harm and havoc. Natural disasters take place every year; deadly disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, storms, hurricanes and droughts cause sudden destruction and fill many homes and families with weeping, pain and sorrow. Fire outbreaks, ghastly motor accidents, plan crashes fill our news. The breaking news more often than not is bad news.
There’s really no safe hour, no safe time of the day (Psalm 91: 5, 6), but through the mercies of God, we can find safety in God. The mercy of God can make you the sole survivor of a fire outbreak, car accident, plane crash, flood or any kind of disaster. The mercy of God rescued Lot and his family from the fire that consumed a whole city; Sodomon and Gomorrah (Psalm 91:7). The mercy of God delivered Noah from the flood that destroyed the whole world (Genesis 6:8).
When you go out and return back home safely, it wasn’t because there was no danger out there or because you are a careful driver that nothing bad happened to you. It was the mercy of God that took you out and brought you safely back home. When you have not been admitted into the hospital for a whole year, it’s not because you are holy and righteous or because you eat healthy, think healthy. Yes, those things are good, but without the mercy of God on your life, you would be lying weak and helpless on a hospital bed. It is because of God’s mercy we haven’t been consumed, our lives haven’t been cut short by the sicknesses, viruses, pandemic, accidents and disasters that have taken hundreds of thousands of lives. Great is God’s faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23).
As you come to God’s throne of grace, may God’s mercy; God’s wings and feathers of protection, shield you from the danger, death, tragedy, disaster and calamity moving from place to place.
3. Those that don’t want to labour in vain or are tired of laboring and not having anything to show for their efforts (Romans 9:16)
You can have a good business idea, a good plan, know many important people, yet you find yourself still on the same level from year to year. Good ideas, great plans, running and exerting energy to prosper and succeed in life, without being backed and covered with the mercy of God, can lead to wasted, unproductive efforts. There are people who are qualified, have all the right credentials, qualifications and skills for a job, yet they go for the job interview and nothing good comes out of it. Then you see someone who by human standards isn’t qualified, hasn’t got what it takes, yet he is offered the job. We can’t put our hope in qualifications, in who we know, (the arm of flesh can fail and disappoint you after all the efforts you have put in calling them, sending them text messages, waiting in their office to discuss your need or problem with them). We must rely on God’s mercy that opens the door for God’s favour to rest upon us and on the work of our hands (Psalm 118:9, Psalm 33:16-20).
Peter was a skilled and experienced fisherman, but there was a day that with all his skill and experience, he wasn’t able to catch a single fish. But when Jesus entered into his boat, the narrative changed. What Peter struggled to achieve all night, came with ease in an instant. What Peter had never achieved in all his years of skill and experience, came effortlessly because by God’s mercy, he was the person Jesus picked to enter his boat and spend time in his boat (Luke 5:1-11). It is good to acquire skill, experience and expertise, but when you have all of that and don’t have the presence and mercy of God with you, this is a recipe for disaster. When God is with you, when God’s blessing is on you, when God’s mercy is speaking concerning you, you shall not labour in vain (Isaiah 65:18-23).
4. Those who are going through tough, difficult times
Have you been shedding tears of pain and sorrow, not tears of joy? Has your life become a reproach; people are mocking you because of your situation, because of the challenges you are going through (Psalm 31:9-11).
Is there a problem you have been battling with for so long and it is seriously weighing you down, it has taken away your peace and joy (Psalm 13:1-2, 5).
The mercy of God can completely turn your situation around. God by His mercy can remember you (Psalm 25:6-7) like He remembered Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19, 2 Samuel 2:1) and your tears are wiped away, your prayer requests becomes a testimony, and the problem that had disturbed you for so long becomes a thing of the past.
God by His mercy can visit you like He visited Sarah and every reproach in your life is rolled away. Those that had laughed at you and ridiculed you, are the same people that come to laugh and celebrate with you (Luke 1:78, Genesis 21:1-6, Romans 4:18-21).
When pains, problems and burdens are dropped at God’s throne of grace, the mercy of God begins to attend to these problems and sadness is replaced with gladness, weeping with dancing. I pray that God’s river of mercy will flow on all those issues bothering you, all those long-standing problems in your life, and you shall soon burst into singing, dancing and testifying of the mercies and goodness of God.
5. Those who are facing Satanic attack and opposition
When the enemy is at work in your life or family, you need God to fight for you with His mercy. The Canaanite woman whose daughter was under demonic possession, brought her daughter and her situation under the mercy of God (Matthew 15:22-28). When the devil struck Job’s life; his family, finances, health, he stayed under the mercy of God (James 5:11). David knew how to call on God to use His mercy to fight for him and deliver him from his enemies and all oppositions against him (Psalm 59:1-4, 10).
The mercy of God gave these people victory over the works and operations of the devil. When God is looking at you with His eyes of mercy, when you bring your life under the mercy of God, God will not allow your enemies to triumph over you, He will not give the kingdom of darkness the opportunity to say aha! Just what we planned for him, has come upon him (Psalm 35:23-25). I pray for you that your God of mercy will come to you, help you, defend you and not allow the wicked and evil desires of your enemies to prevail in your life. The mercy of God will break, scatter and destroy every evil chain and yoke holding your life, family and destiny down.
Resist Every Opposition and Obstacle to Your Receiving God’s Mercy
The safest place for anyone to be, the best place for anyone to be is in God’s arms of mercy (2 Samuel 24:14). Therefore, we must resist any opposition, any obstacle to our entering and staying in God’s arms of mercy. We must be humble, determined, have faith and be hopeful that we will receive the mercy of God. Like the Canaanite woman who cried out to Jesus to have mercy on her and deliver her daughter from demon possession (Matthew 15:22-28). At first, Jesus didn’t answer her. Did that stop her from asking for mercy? Not at all! She was ignored, yet she was determined that mercy was what she came for, mercy was what she would live with. Jesus even indirectly referred to her as a dog when He said “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26). Did she say out of pride and anger who the hell do you think you are and walk off? No! She still called out to Jesus to have mercy on her daughter. The disciples told Jesus to send her away. She still didn’t budge. Mercy was what she came for, mercy was what she would get. What she wanted was what she got, right there and then her daughter became well.
Blind Bartimeaus also showed the same determination when he cried out to Jesus to have mercy on him. Many tried to hush him, but he behaved like he couldn’t hear a word they were saying. He yelled even louder Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Mercy was what he came for, mercy was what he would live with. He even got Jesus to stand still, to stop everything Jesus was doing and pay attention to his plea for mercy. When Jesus called for him, he throw aside his garment which could keep him from moving fast to Jesus. Mercy was what he came for, mercy was what he would get. He wasn’t ready to allow anything or anyone prevent him from receiving mercy. Right there and then, he was healed of blindness (Mark 10:46-52).
To receive God’s mercy, we must throw off every garment of faulty thinking that we are undeserving and unqualified to receive God’s mercy because of the kind of things we have done or our level or status in society. Mercy has nothing to do with our bank account, how much we earn, where we live, what people think about us, how dreadful our sins, or how big the size of our problem. Mercy has everything to do with humility, faith and determination. Don’t allow anyone distract you from God’s mercy. Don’t allow what people think of you or say about you make you say I’m not coming to church again, I’m not serving God again, I’m not going to bother myself praying, I’m done with this Christianity. Don’t allow anyone be a hindrance to your drawing near to God’s throne of grace to receive mercy. Draw near in faith, draw near with boldness and confidence, draw near irrespective of what you have done, how far you have strayed. Draw near even if your problem is something doctors and science have said there’s no solution for. Draw near so that right here and now, you can receive forgiveness, protection, healing, deliverance and restoration in Jesus mighty name. Amen!
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