APPRECIATING THE MERCY OF GOD

 BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

“About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were sacrificing at the Temple in Jerusalem.  ‘Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than other people from Galilee?’ he asked. ‘Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will also perish unless you turn from your evil ways and turn to God. And what about the eighteen men who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will also perish” (Luke 13:1-5 New Living Translation).

Many people don’t reflect on their lives. Because of this, they don’t appreciate the mercy of God. In the scripture above, Jesus told his listeners that the Galileans, that Pilate murdered, were not worse sinners than other Galileans. He added that the eighteen men, who died when the Tower of Siloam fell on them, were neither the worst sinners in Jerusalem. That means, by human judgment, there were those whose lives were spared who were worse sinners than these two categories of people. Therefore, it would be wrong for those who escaped death to attribute it to their righteousness, smartness, etc. Don’t be judgmental.

You also are not better than those who have died, those who have experienced terrible things, those who’re in the hospital, those who’re bereaved, etc. You’ve obtained God’s mercy. It’s not that you’re holier, more prayerful, more hard-working, or a better Christian than these people – it’s the mercy of God upon you. To attribute your peace, progress, success, protection, etc. to any good in you, is to engage in self-righteousness. You must repent of this.

Lamentation 3:22 says it is by the mercies of the LORD that we’re not consumed. It’s the mercy of God that saved us from sin (Titus 3:5), and it’s the mercy of God that keeps us, not our righteousness. You need to appreciate the mercy of God towards you that has made the difference in your life. Without the mercy of God, all your efforts, labour, sacrifices, etc. would have been in vain.

God’s mercy on Epaphroditus

Ephesians 2:4 says God is rich in mercy. In the Bible, we see how God had mercy on Epaphroditus and the apostle Paul so that Epaphroditus didn’t die when he was sick – Paul rightly acknowledged this (Philippians 2:27). Epaphroditus was a messenger sent by the church at Philippi with a gift for the apostle Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. Paul didn’t attribute Epaphroditus’ recovery from sickness to his labour in prayer, though he must have prayed.

The fact that we spend hours in prayer is not as important as the fact that there’s a God who answers prayer. Suppose God doesn’t answer prayer! Our labour in prayer will amount to a mere physical exercise. When some people are sharing testimonies, and they’re indirectly blowing their trumpets rather than appreciating the mercy of God, I pity them. Paul was right when he acknowledged the mercy of God in the healing of Epaphroditus.

 God’s mercy towards Paul

The same Paul acknowledged the mercy of God in saving him when he was blaspheming His name ignorantly in unbelief (1Timothy 1:13). Paul couldn’t have saved himself – it was the mercy of God that did. After all, there were sinners who, naturally speaking, were not probably as terrible as he was, who died in their sins without obtaining salvation. They never had the type of supernatural encounter he had which led to his salvation. Paul received God’s mercy. In 1Timothy 1:15-16, Paul, speaking further on the mercy he obtained, said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (New King James Version).

 God will choose you for His mercy

There is the general mercy of God towards all. However, God determines the beneficiaries of His mercy per time. He dispenses His mercy at His own discretion, though each person can also do things that can provoke His mercy or attract His mercy towards him. God says in Exodus 33:19b, “I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose” (New Living Translation). Romans 9:15 also repeats this declaration by God. Beloved, there are many people today who’re working hard and doing all they know to do, but what they need now is the mercy of God, not more work! This season, God will choose you for His mercy in Jesus’ name.

God withdrew His mercy from Saul but His mercy did not depart from David and Solomon. See God’s mercy towards David: “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name his horn shall be exalted” (Psalm 89:24 New King James Version). God extended this same mercy to his son, Solomon. Talking about Solomon, God said, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14-15 New King James Version). This is repeated in 1Chronicles 17:13 thus: “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it from him who was before you” (New King James version). God’s mercy shall not depart from you in Jesus’ name.

God said He would have mercy on Jacob (Israel) (Isaiah 14:1). However, in Isaiah 27:11, He said He would not have mercy on the Israelites because of their sin. God allowed the Babylonians to destroy their fortified city, Jerusalem, and they were carried into exile. Nevertheless, Psalm 102:13 says God shall arise and have mercy on Zion for the time to favour her, yes, the set time, has come. The LORD had mercy upon the exiles and brought them back to Jerusalem. Psalm 126:1-3 says, “When the LORD restored his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the LORD has done for them.’ Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (New Living Translation).

It is bad if God doesn’t show mercy towards someone, but it’s worse if He shows His mercy towards one and then withdraws it as He did to Saul (2 Samuel 7:15). 1Peter 2:10 says Christians were formerly sinners who once “had not obtained mercy but now have obtained” (New King James Version). This is better than the reverse – to have obtained mercy in the past but not to enjoy mercy now.  God says, “Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23 New King James Version).

There is nothing comparable to the mercy of God, and nothing can be worse than the withdrawal of God’s mercy. My prayer is that God will not withdraw His mercy from you.

Over and over again, we read in the book of Psalms the cry for the mercy of God  (Psalms 4:1, 9:13; 25:16; 27:7; 30:10; 31:9; 51:1; 86:16; 123:2-3). The mercy of God doesn’t act in vain. No wonder, that man whose son was demon-possessed, but Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast the demon out, cried to Jesus, “LORD have mercy on my son” (Matthew 17:15 New King James Version). Jesus rebuked the demon and it left him; the boy was well immediately. The LORD shall have mercy on you this season.

The cry of the Canaanite woman was the same. She cried, “Have mercy on me, O LORD, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed” (Matthew 15:22 New King James Version). Because the woman exhibited such great faith, Jesus granted her desire, and her daughter was healed that very hour. The LORD shall have mercy on you. You’ll enjoy his mercy.

The mercy of God is absolutely powerful. No wonder, in Matthew 9:27, 30, two blind men cried to Jesus to have mercy on them. While Jesus was going out of Jericho, two blind men again cried to Jesus for mercy (Matthew 20:29-31). According to the book of Mark, as Jesus went out of Jericho, blind Bartimaeus cried to him, “Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:46-48). The book of Luke also tells us that while Jesus was coming near Jericho, a blind man, whose name is not mentioned, cried to him for mercy (Luke 18:35-39). In all these cases, Jesus granted their requests; the mercy of God prevailed. Whatever is the negative condition you’re in now, God shall have mercy on you.

You should appreciate the mercy of God. Thank God for His mercy and ask for His mercy. The mercy of God will make all the difference in your life. Hebrews 4:16 says we should come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help when we need it.

Ezra says God extended His mercy to him before the king – Artaxerxes, king of Persia – and his counsellors and the king’s mighty princes (Ezra 7:28). That’s what happens when God shows His mercy towards one. One enjoys people’s favour and kindness. I pray that God will extend His mercy to you, and you’ll enjoy favour in the high places. People shall be favourably disposed towards you.

In Ezra 9:9, Ezra again talked about the mercy of God. He said God extended His mercy to Israel in the sight of the king of Persia “to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (New King James Version). The LORD shall show you mercy.  He shall extend His mercy to you and your family, your ministry, your business, etc. in Jesus’ name.

 Benefits of the mercy of God

1. Nobody can be born again without the mercy of God. We’re born again according to the abundant mercy of God. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (New King James Version). The Bible says we are not saved by works of righteousness which we have done, but He saved us according to His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). God’s mercy saves us.

2. Forgiveness of sin. Even after we’re born again, we sometimes sin. There’s no Christian who has attained sinless perfection; no saint of God is faultless. It’s the mercy of God that forgives us our sins. It is the mercy of God that doesn’t make God destroy us immediately we sin, but forgives us when we repent and ask for forgiveness. Psalm 78:38 says God, being full of mercy, forgave the children of Israel their iniquity and did not destroy them. He still forgives His children today.

Nevertheless, the fact that God forgives our sins is no license to be practicing sin. We know that those who have become part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them”  (1 John 5:18 New Living Translation). Earlier in1 John 3:6, the Bible says,  “So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is” ( New Living Translation).

That chapter goes further to say, “But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God” (verses 8-9 New Living Translation).

Forgiveness of sin doesn’t give anyone the licence to sin. Hear what Paul said: “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not!” (Romans 6:1-2 New Living Translation)

3. Restoration. The mercy of God grants us restoration. His mercy restores us to lost positions; it restores to us what we’ve lost.

The mercy of the father of the prodigal son towards him restored him to sonship. He had admitted that he was not worthy to be called his father’s son again. He only wanted to be made one of his servants but the father had compassion on him, forgave him, and welcomed him back home, not as a servant, but as a son. “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:20-24 New King James Version). I pray that, by His mercy, the LORD shall restore to you all that you’ve lost.

4. Healing. We receive healing by the mercy of God. Everyone in the Bible who needed healing and cried for mercy received healing. As many as will cry to God today will still receive the mercy of God. The ten lepers cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”(Luke 17:13 New King James Version). He had mercy on them and they were healed but only one of them, a Samaritan, came back to testify to his healing, which had manifested as he was going.

In Mark 10:47, blind Bartimaeus cried to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (New King James Version). The Bible says when many warned him to be quiet, Bartimaeus cried out even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Verse 48b New King James Version). The outcome of that encounter with Jesus was the opening of his blind eyes. This happened because he persisted in crying aloud for the mercy of the LORD.

Luke 18:35-43 states a similar story without mentioning the name of the blind man whose eyes were opened because he persisted in crying for the mercy of the LORD. In Matthew’s account, they were two blind men and they received their sight back as they cried to Jesus for mercy (Matthew 20:29-34).  

Also in Mark 9, the father of the boy, whom Jesus healed of deaf and dumb spirit, said to Jesus, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22 New King James Version). Jesus had compassion on him and healed the boy.

Cry to Jesus for mercy; His mercy is still healing today. By His stripes, we were healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Believe God’s report concerning your healing and cry to God for His mercy; claim what Jesus did for you on the cross.

5. Deliverance. The mercy of God delivers us from every danger, captivity, and bondage. “Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen” (Hosea 1:7 New King James Version). God’s deliverance is not limited to the Old Testament house of Judah. Judah actually means praise. If you’ll praise Him, you’ll experience His merciful deliverance. God is still delivering His children today by His mercy.

6. Favour. The mercy of God causes people to show us favour, show us preferential treatment. Sometimes the mercy of God ensures that we don’t receive what we deserve negatively. When God favours you, by His mercy, human beings shall also favour you. Moreover, you’ll begin to record outstanding results that are far beyond human efforts; you’ll reap where you’ve not sown! “So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant…” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11 New King James Version). That shall be your experience this season in Jesus’ name.

How to activate God’s mercy

1. Admit your sinfulness. A sinner needs the mercy of God. He must, therefore, admit and confess his sins in order to obtain His mercy.

In the parable that Jesus told about the Pharisee and the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray, the first thing the tax collector did, unlike the self-righteous Pharisee, was to admit that he was a sinner and to ask for God’s mercy. “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13 New King James Version). Verse 14 says, “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (New King James Version).

If you want to activate the mercy of God, humble yourself by admitting your sins and repent. That was the difference between Saul and David. Both sinned. However, while Saul did not immediately admit his sin but shifted the blame, David immediately admitted his sin (1 Samuel 15; 2 Samuel 12:13; 24:10; 1Chronicles 21:7-8).

1John 1:8-10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (New King James Version). Your self-righteousness is just like filthy rags(Isaiah 64:6). It can’t stand before God. If you humble yourself and confess your sins, you’ll obtain God’s mercy. God says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12 New King James Version).

2. Return to the LORD. After repenting of your sins and confessing, come back to the LORD. God forgives the sinner who repents, and He forgets his sin. God treats with compassion those who return to Him; He will be gracious and merciful to them. He says, “For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him” (2 Chronicles 30:9 New King James Version).

3. Cry to the LORD for His mercy. In the Bible, God responded to the cry for mercy. No one who cried to Jesus for mercy was denied; each of them obtained mercy – everyone received his miracle. “For You, LORD, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5 New King James Version). So plead for His mercy.

4. Show mercy to others. Whoever doesn’t show mercy to others shall not receive mercy from God. This agrees with the principle of sowing and reaping which the Bible teaches in different passages. The psalmist said, “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful” (Psalm18:25 New King James Version). Jesus Christ clearly stated this truth in the New Testament. He said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7 New King James Version). That’s why he taught us to be merciful, just as our Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). Writing along the same line, James said, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13 New King James Version).

If you want God to show you mercy, show others mercy. Don’t be like that wicked servant whose master, out of compassion, forgave the huge debt he owed him, but who, mercilessly, refused to forgive his fellow servant who owed him a far less debt. “Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny” (Matthew 18:32-34 New Living Translation).

5. Worship God. Don’t worship false gods. Those who worship false gods, whether a graven image or the modern gods like money, power, fame, self, etc. will forfeit enjoyment of mercy from God. They will have to look for mercy from the gods they’re worshipping! They can’t look for mercy from the Living God whom they’ve refused to worship except they repent. Those who deny God their worship also deny themselves His mercy. Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation puts it thus: “Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies.”

Worship God; don’t turn your back on God’s mercies, because you’ll need His mercies. You can’t survive without God’s mercies. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lamentation 3:22 New King James Version).

Conclusion: The mercy of God endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34, 41; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 7:3, 6, 20:21; Psalms 106:1, 107:1, 118:1-4, 29, 136:1-26; Jeremiah 33:11). Make sure you appreciate the mercy of God upon your life. Thank God for His mercy every day. Recognize your need for His mercy. Ask for His mercy every day. The Bible says His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness (Lamentation 3:23). The mercy of God will make a difference in your life. Deliberately do what will trigger the release of His mercy towards you. It shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.

dsc_0581T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
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Website: www.cedarministry.org