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Blessed Are The Merciful

"1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  4Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  5Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  6Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.  7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11Blessed are you, when men shall revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.  12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."  Matthew 5:1-12

As we march onward through this great Sermon on the Mount and especially the Beatitudes, we find ourselves faced with Blessed are the Merciful.  What a joy to reach the place of mercy!   These beatitudes are speaking to us of Christian Character.  Yes, character.  Do you remember the equation we have used in the past?  If not, it is this:    C+C=I

Character + Conduct = Influence

It all begins with character.  The gospel puts weight upon who we are before it places emphasis upon what we do.  Later, in the Sermon on the Mount there will be mention of actions or conduct.  Someone said, "We do not control Christianity, but Christianity controls us.  As we walk and talk and live, we are declaring by conduct exactly what we are."

Also, let us be reminded that each beatitude is a logical outcome of the previous one.  First, we are poor in spirit.  The Bible says, "In me dwelleth no good thing." (Romans 7:18)  If that is a problem for us at the moment, then we need to get on our knees.  Then, we mourn the sinfulness we have seen in ourselves.  I mourn and cry as did Isaiah, "Woe is me, for I am undone.  I am a man of unclean lips..."  And like Paul the apostle, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"  Paul went on to answer this question of his with these words in Romans 7:25, "I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord!"  10,000 Hallelujahs!  I am now thinking of a song!

"What can wash away my sin, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
 
What can make me whole again, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
 
O precious is the flow, that makes Me white as snow.
 
No other fount I know, nothing but The blood of Jesus."

After this mourning takes place, I am now seeing myself in a new light.  I am now seeing others in a new light.  Meekness has now arrived on the scene and what others do to me or say about me carries no hurt or insult.  Why?  It is because my Lord has seen the worst about me and what He knows is far worse than what ANYBODY ELSE KNOWS, yet He LOVES ME ANYWAY!  HE FORGAVE ME ANYWAY!  (Excuse me, friends, but that deserves another Hallelujah!)  There is no need to retaliate anymore.  There is no reason to get even.  You see, no one knows what God knows and He knows I am worse than what OTHERS could ever think about me.  Knowing this, I now have a passion for righteousness.  I have a discontent with everything in my life that is UNLIKE God.  I Hunger and Thirst for more righteousness.  I long for more of Him.  I cannot produce this righteousness, nor create it, but I can put myself in the way of getting it.  Jesus has promised to satisfy that hunger and quench that thirst.  "They shall be filled."  As that hunger and thirst are satisfied, it is a foregone conclusion that my attitude towards others will be different.  I will see their difficulty because I have seen mine.  I have had a glimpse of my wretchedness, my lostness, and my sinfulness.  I now see that what they need is mercy!  Yes, the mercy that was great and the grace that was free.  They need the pardon that was multiplied to me!  I separate the sinner from the sin.

What is mercy?

Negatively speaking, mercy is not found in the natural man.  The unsaved.  It is not being "easy going."  It is not being "kindly disposed."  As you know, some dogs are nicer than others.  Some dogs are more "kindly disposed" than other dogs.  Mercy, or being merciful, is an attribute of God.  It is spiritual.  It is not turning a deaf ear or a blind eye to sin.  No.  The Bible says that all have sinned.  The scripture points out that no one is righteous.  Mercy is what God is, and He does not turn a deaf ear to sin.  He does not excuse our unrighteousness.  He is not "easy going" regarding the breaking of His commandments.

Merciful means that God sees the suffering and sin of man.  He pities the human race and then does something about it.  What did He do?

              "For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8

God the Father saw that you and I were hell-bound sinners and was so moved with compassion that He came down to earth to do something about it.  Through Jesus we have experienced that mercy in our lives so we cannot and will not withhold that mercy from others!  My mercifulness is the outcome of what I have already received and experienced.  So, when someone has done me wrong, and they are in my "power", so to speak, I do not give them what they deserve.  Why?  Because I was not given what I deserve!!  Can someone say, Amen?
   
It is not, "Be merciful, so you will receive mercy", any more than it is "Forgive, so you will be forgiven."  No.   It is this:  Because I have received forgiveness, I cannot withhold forgiveness from anyone.  And if I do, I prove that I do not know what forgiveness even is.   What is mercy?  It is pity in action.

It was mercy on Joseph's part, after his brothers mistreated and sold him as a slave, that caused him to forgive them and show them mercy when they were in his power to crush them and make them pay for what they had put him through.

It was mercy in David to spare King Saul when Saul was in David's power to kill him.

It was mercy that caused the Samaritan to bind up the wounds of the man left for dead on the road to Jericho in Luke chapter ten.  To take that man to a motel and pay his bill.  It was not just pity.  Others may have had pity on the man.  The priest, and the Levite may have had pity.  But mercy gets out the wallet and the band-aids and applies the character.

Oh, my friends, it was mercy that cried from the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do".  And it is that same spirit of mercy which caused Stephen in the book of Acts chapter seven verse sixty to say, "Lay not this sin to their charge".  Stephen could never have said such a thing had he not been the recipient of that same mercy and forgiveness.  This is what Christians are and therefore do.  This is what Jesus did for you and me.  Can we do any less for those who have trespassed against us?

How do we feel about sinners?  How do we feel when we are wrongly accused?  What do we do when we have been wronged and we are in the "driver's seat"?  Are we merciful?  Do we get our "pound of flesh" as they say?  Do we see sinners as Satan's slaves in need of mercy?  Do we pity them?  Pound them?  Pray for them?  If I am not merciful, then perhaps I do not know what is to have received mercy from the Lord Jesus.  Do we separate the sin from the sinner?  In our relationships do we hold over people's heads that trespass they committed against us 10 years ago?  Are we ever going to let him/her forget the day they wronged us?  Listen, I am compelled to tell you this.  If we are going to make a mistake, let us make it on the side of mercy! 

Sometimes we need to repent of our unforgiving spirit.  Perhaps we need to let that husband, or wife off the hook.  Maybe it's YOU who needs the forgiveness and the mercy.  Listen, Satan has held your sin over your head long enough!  Cry out to the Lord!  Stop holding it in!  Say, "Lord, I have sinned.  I need Your mercy and forgiveness!"  Perhaps that joy and gladness that we desire is being held up by our lack of mercy to others.  You have been walking around despondent, discouraged, and despaired.  I am talking to someone right now who thinks that they have sinned past the line of His grace and mercy.  The Devil has told you that all is lost.  He has convinced you that forgiveness was not meant for you.  He has held that lie over your head and it is eating you alive.  It is an attitude that is controlling you and causing you to lash out at others and withhold mercy from them.  Yes, it is true!  Sin makes a slave out of us.  It keeps us bound.  But confession and repentance releases and frees us.  I like this little illustration:

A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot.  He went into the woods to practice with it but was not very good at hitting his target.  When he came back to Grandma's back yard, he saw her pet duck.  On an impulse, he took aim and let the stone fly.  He hit his target and the duck was dead.  The boy panicked.  Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister Sally watching.  She had seen the whole thing but said nothing.  After lunch Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."  Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to wash the dishes.  Didn't you, Johnny?"  And Sally whispered to him, "Remember the duck!"  So, Johnny did the dishes.  Later Grandpa asked the two children if they wanted to go fishing.  Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help me make supper."  Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of.  Johnny wants to do it."  Again, she whispered, "Remember the duck!"  Johnny stayed and Sally went fishing.  After several days of this Johnny could not stand it any longer.  He confessed to Grandma that he had killed her pet duck and hid it in the woodpile.  "I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug.  "I was standing at the kitchen window and saw the whole thing."  Johnny was amazed at this.  Then his grandmother said, "I was wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you."
 
Ah, that is the question to us!  How long will we let the sin we are holding within our hearts make a slave out of us?  It's robbing us of our joy and gladness.  It's keeping us from being merciful.  The enemy of your soul is holding you captive.  How long will we allow the enemy to keep us in bondage?  
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."   His mercy awaits you.  Your freedom is one confession away.   Listen to the words of this song:

Years I spent in vanity and pride
Caring not my Lord was crucified
Knowing not it was for me He died
At Calvary
 
Mercy there was great, and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary

It was at Calvary that the price for your sin and mine was paid.  Have you experienced it?  If not, you can.  If you have, then walk over to that person who wronged you; extend a hand of mercy and experience joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Confess your sin of unforgiveness, your lack of mercy, and...    "Remember the duck!"

Look What the Lord Has Done

A Testimony of John Newton
(1725 - 1807)
The year was 1748.   In the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of Ireland, a ship named The Greyhound was caught in a tremendous storm.  As the waves crashed the ship, and the crew was sure they were going down, a sailor by the name of John Newton tied himself to the mast.  In the fury of the storm, John cried out to God for mercy, a God he had not given much thought to for most of his life.  A God that he had walked, or can we say, ran far away from.  A God that he had blasphemed and mocked.  A Savior that he now remembered in his time of need.

John Newton was born in 1725 to a God-fearing mother and a sea captain father.  For the first seven years of His life, His mother taught Him from the Bible, speaking scriptures to his young heart, instilling in him truths of who God is and how to live a life for Christ.  When John was seven, his mother died from Tuberculosis, and John was sent to school to learn to be a minister.  He did not do well and by the age of eleven, John Newton took his first trip to sea on his father's ship.  This began the sea-life for John.  A life that plummeted far from the loving Savior of whom his mother had taught him.

John Newton was press-ganged into the Royal Navy.  He rebelled and fought against any authority in his life.  After deserting and being caught, he was placed in irons, and flogged.  Later, at his request, he was placed aboard a slaving ship.  This began his years of work transporting human slave cargo to the Americas and England.  John Newton had fallen into such a state of anger and arrogance.  In his own words he said, "I sinned with a high hand," he later wrote, "and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others."  At one point he was even thrown off a ship and became a slave himself to slave-dealers on an island off the West coast of Africa.   After, being rescued, and returning to sea, he became even more hateful and very few of his fellow sailors even wanted to be around him.

Now tied to the mast, that angry, God cursing, deplorable, slave trader, John Newton found himself in a two week-long storm, - a storm that he was sure would lead to his death.  And at that moment, the Lord, in His mercy brought to John's memory the words of scripture taught him by his mother, all those many years ago.  His eyes were opened to the "uncertain continuance of life."  A scripture that he had learned as a child came to his mind, Proverbs 1:24-26, "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity: I will mock when your fear cometh;"  As that storm raged, John saw the state of his heart.  He pleaded for God to hear him and in His mercy save him.  He understood that he was a sinner, as stated in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  He knew that the way he was living was not bringing glory to God, and that he needed Jesus Christ's forgiveness.  In the Lord's, grace and mercy, in His unfailing love for John, He listened to John's cry and answered him.

This Psalm is a great description of John Newton's life:

Psalm 40:1-3, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."

After, John's surrender to the Lord, he gave up the life of the sea and of slave ships.  He gave up his anger and rebellion.  The Lord took him out of the deep, miry clay and the pit of sin he had chosen to live in and put his feet upon a rock and that Rock was Jesus Christ.  Would you believe that John Newton became a pastor?  His ways were established by the Lord.  He wrote and spoke out against slavery.  And even today this man, John Newton influences your and my life.  For the Lord put a new song in his mouth, a song of praise.  For it was John Newton that wrote the words of a hymn that is sung around the world, reminding us of God's work and change in a life that is surrendered to Him.  Look closely at this song and see if you can see the work of God's mercy!

Amazing Grace

John Newton
1779

Amazing grace!
How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost,
But now I'm found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught
My heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did
That grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers
Toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Twas grace has brought
Me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

When we've been there
Ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We'll have no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.

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