Hello Church Devotion Aug.14, 2013

M is for Mercy

One of the places we would never think of a natural disaster occurring would be the Garden of Eden. And yet, the worst disaster in all of creation happened right there. In the beginning, Adam and Eve knew what it was like to have all their needs met by God. They had food right at their fingertips, because God provided fruit. They didn’t need clothes, because the temperature was just right for paradise. They did not need a home, because there was no storm from which they needed protection. There was no illness, disease or death. There were no hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. There were no blizzards or heat waves. Everything in the Garden of Eden worked just the way God intended.

How quickly everything changed in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were tempted to become just like God and they gave in to this temptation. When Adam and Eve sinned, they left God. They left God’s protective care. They left the fruit God provided for them to eat. They left the safety of living without a home. Adam and Eve left the comfort of an environment where clothing was truly optional.

They left a world where natural disasters would not occur. When

Adam and Eve sinned, they decided they no longer needed God and that they could serve as their own gods. They believed the twisted lie of the devil who had corrupted God’s beautiful creation in His Word and followed the devil into a world that would not be the same for quite some time.

After the fall into sin, all of creation was different. Food would not grow easily, instead thorns and thistles would grow in abundance. The environment would change and require clothing. The world itself would face temperature changes that could kill people in a few minutes unless they had proper clothing and housing. Creation itself was now restless: the land was no longer settled but would shake in earthquakes. The air would no longer blow gently, but would whip up into frenzied storms and tornadoes. The seas would no longer obey their boundaries set by God, but would now wash up on shore and kill people.

Not only were Adam and Eve’s souls and bodies changed, but the very physical world in which they lived had also been changed.

The world we live in is definitely fallen. The Lutheran Confessions speak of the devil as “corrupting” or “twisting” the good things God has made into things of his own desire and pleasure.

1. What are some ways that the devil has twisted the inside of people’s souls so that we think and act in ways not intended by God?

2. What are some ways that the devil has twisted the outside(people’s bodies and also this physical world) so that they do not conform and act in the ways intended by God?

So now that we seen the dire needs of people, the world, and all of creation… we know of the need for mercy. What is mercy?

The dictionary defines Mercy as:

1. Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.

2. The disposition to be compassionate or forbearing; an adversary wholly without mercy.

3. The discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.

4. An act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.

5. Something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

Our Synodical President Matthew Harrison has written pretty extensively on the biblical meaning of mercy. “Johann Wilhelm Loehe (Lutheran pastor who prepared pastors for the missionary field in early America) presents a very intriguing and unifying definition of mercy. God’s love exists as an express of His very being. (1 John 4:7). Love is an act of the will of God without respect to the worthiness or unworthiness of the recipient (Rom. 11:32). Mercy is love responding to need. Where divine love meets sin, mercy exists as grace in Christ. Where divine love meets bodily suffering and need, that love becomes mercy and care for those suffering. According to Loehe, care and concern for spiritual and physical need are born of the same divine love in Christ. They cannot be separated in the life of the Church.”

1 John 4:7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Rom. 11:32. For God has bound together all in disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.

Matthew 25:31ff. ….whatever you did for the least of these my brethren, you did for me…

1 Cor. 13:1. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong, or a clanging cymbal.

James. 2:14ff. What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his

physical needs, what good is it?

Gal. 6:7ff. A man reaps what he sows… Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those in the household of faith.

1 John 3:10ff. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

We conducted a food drive recently and a fundraiser breakfast for the Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries Food Pantry. Doing and being God’s people who show mercy is part of our calling in Christ. This upcoming Sunday, we will dedicate over 170 quilts for use throughout the world to keep people warm from the coldness of despair and the chill of poverty. Mercy is love responding to a need.

Sometimes, people ask me why our Church has so many “causes” we support. It is merely the reflection of God’s incredible mercy shown to us in Christ that motivates and moves us to show forth mercy to our fellow humans in need. How great it would be if we all were more merciful to those around us! May God so grant that to His Church and His people.

Prayer: Lord, enlarge my heart to be compassionate to those in need. Let me not be cold and aloof from the real needs of people around me. Grant me the wisdom to show love to those you send in my path each day. May Your Spirit show the love of Jesus in my actions of care and concern. Help me Lord, to trust in Your mercy for me… that even though I am not worthy, You chose to show mercy towards me. Thank you, my God and my Lord! Show me the truth that we all need mercy every day for our errors and sins. Let me not be scornful or puffed up in arrogance, but rather help me be humble, understanding, and compassionate with those who hurt and are in need. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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