“I Plead for Mercy”

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Once upon a time, Napoleon was approached by a son’s mother who asked him to pardon the son’s crime. Napoleon indicated the heinous nature of the crime that had been committed twice, indicating that justice demanded the death penalty. However, the mother indicated that she was not asking for justice, she was asking for mercy. At that point Napoleon granted mercy based on this mother’s request.

This story serves as an excellent illustration of the situation in which we all find ourselves. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).  Justice would indicate that we deserve to die because of that sin. Sin, death and separation would all be due us, as it would be our fault. 

Despite the situation in which man put(s) himself, God provides mercy. Mercy can be defined as the withholding of that which is due. In short, through His mercy, God does not give us what we deserve. How is this possible with a just God? Justice, as it relates to God, rewards the faithful and punishes the sinner. How can God do this and maintain the attributes that make Him God? The answer is two-fold. First, God loves us and that love motivated Him to act on our behalf. Then, He provided that which necessary to satisfy His wrath; He sent His Son to die in our place (Rom. 5:6-8). In the vicarious death of Christ, God’s wrath/justice is served and mercy is extended through that blood. 

We sing a great song, “Love Lifted Me.” When we were in sin, the love of God, manifested in His mercy, “lifted” us from the fate due our rejection of His will. May we reflect often on what has been done on our behalf that we may enjoy a heavenly reward.

 

Note: The illustration of Napoleon was borrowed from a sermon by Justin Imel)

Enemies to Growth

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The church, throughout the New Testament, is described as the body of Christ. This is true in form as well as in function. Bodies are designed to live, act and work. It is natural for the body to function in such a way as to promote life tomorrow. We must see that the same is true for the Lord’s church. 

Our own bodies have enemies that threaten our well-being. These can be internal or external in nature. Internally, we are concerned with viruses and diseases that can harm the body. Cancer is a major enemy that has affected many. We can also be harmed externally, either by accidents or by those who intentionally wish to bring us harm.  

The church has similar enemies. There have been those down through the years who have attempted to eradicate the church. This has come in the form of governments, individuals and other religious groups. However, our greatest enemies, and often the most overlooked, are those internal enemies having the capability of destroying the body.  

One of the major ways to avoid defeat at the hands of an enemy is that of being aware of who or what our enemies are and the threat they pose. Ignorance, unbelief and apathy are just a few of the things of which any congregation must be aware as they contemplate the health and safety of the local body. A “blanket” enemy to be considered is sin. Satan does not want Christians, either individually or collectively, to be successful. He doesn’t want us to win. We must take great precautions to avoid the enemies that have been effective in ruining works and destroying congregations. We have been promised victory. We must simply seize that which has been provided, through God’s word, to secure that victory.