Jesus: The Peace and Power of God in Your Boat

Mark 4:37-39 (NKJV) 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

We have been looking at the story from Mark 4 about the disciples on the sea of Galilee in a terrible storm. The disciples were afraid because the storm was so great. Jesus calmed the storm and asked the disciples why they had no faith in Him. We found our answer in the last verse of the chapter. They did not understand just whom they had in their boat.

Yesterday we looked at Jesus as the promise of God in our boat. Jesus told them to go to the other side. The words of Jesus were the words of God. God’s word is full of power. If Jesus told them to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, then those words had the power to get them there.

The same is true of every promise in the Bible. All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20.) That means Jesus is the promise of God in your boat. Whatever the Bible says is ours in we can receive as done in the name of Jesus. In those promises, we have the Word of Jesus himself that we will get to the other side of every need.

Today I want to look at two other things Jesus was in the disciple’s boat. When the storm got very bad, they looked into the back of the boat and could not believe their eyes when they saw that Jesus was asleep! Jesus was not sheltered from the storm. I am sure he was tossed as much as or more than those in the middle of the boat. The rain was coming down on him and the wind was blowing over him. Yet with all the turmoil created by the storm, Jesus was asleep.

I do not blame them for being afraid. I have already pointed out that they were experienced seaman who had weathered many storms on the Galilee. If they were afraid, this must have been a particularly bad storm. The part I do not understand is what they said when they woke Jesus.

“Don’t you care that we are going to die?” they said. It would seem that they questioned Jesus love and care for them. We often fall into the same trap. If the devil can get us to question God’s love for us, he has beaten us. In Romans 8 we read about Paul. He says that he is more than a conqueror because he was fully persuaded that nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ. Had the disciples held Paul’s conviction they would not have questioned Jesus’ love for them and they would not have given in to fear.

I want to point out something about this scenario that you may not have considered. The disciples interpreted this as Jesus’ lack of care for their situation. There is another interpretation. Jesus was asleep because he was at peace. He could sleep with the storm raging because he knew the storm would not overwhelm them. Jesus was the peace of God in their boat.

They could have looked to the stern of their troubled ship, seen Jesus asleep and said to one another, “If Jesus is able to sleep in this storm I guess we must be alright.” I do not really think Jesus calmed the storm so they would make it to the other side. They were going to do that anyway. He calmed the storm because it was so distressing to the disciples. He had no doubt that they would make it. He was at peace and asleep in the middle of the trial.

Jesus is the peace of God in your boat. If he is not worried, we do not have to worry. If he is asleep in the boat that does not mean he does not care; it means that he knows you are going to make it. How can we tell if Jesus is not worried? We cannot see him sleeping in our boat. There are two things I can think of that we can look at.

First, we can look at the Word of God. If you have a promise from the Bible that you know covers your situation, I can assure you that Jesus is not worried. You can use the written Word as the disciples should have used the sleeping Jesus. When you are tempted to fear, look at the promise in the Word of God. You will find that it has not changed since the last time you looked at it.

Replace the worried thoughts with the promise of God. Meditate on the promise. Confess the promise over your life. The more you do, the less you will fear. Jesus is not worried as long as the promise has not changed and you do not have to worry either.

You also need to find that place in your heart where you know Jesus lives. This is a little more abstract and I cannot tell exactly how to do that. I can say that over the years I have served the Lord, there have been many times when I thought the waves might overwhelm my boat. If I looked to my natural mind, I could not see how God could ever meet the need. There were times when the worried thoughts pushed aside the truth of the promise of God.

In those moments I would take time to quiet myself and focus on a place that was deeper than the thoughts running around my head. I would find that place where I know the Lord lives in my heart. In that place, I would find the peace and assurance that everything was under control and I knew we would have victory. In 36 years of serving God, that assurance has never been wrong.

Finally, we see that Jesus did stand up in the bow of the boat and speak to the storm. As I said, I do not really think he calmed the storm to get them to the other side. However, part of their problem was that they did not understand that Jesus was the power of God in their boat. Although I am not sure they needed the storm calmed, if they did Jesus was the power to get that done.

Jesus is the power of God in your boat. Whatever need may arise, if you have Jesus in your boat, you will be all right. There is nothing that can happen to you that is greater than the power of God. God created the whole earth. Is there anything the earth could possibly bring against us that the power of God cannot overcome?

If there is sickness in your body, is that greater than the power of God. I know that people are not always healed. I know that even Christians die of sickness and disease. However, that does not change the fact that God is able to heal any disease.

Is God incapable of dealing with financial lack? Of course not! God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and as one brother said, “The tators under the hills too.” God has ways to meet your needs that you have never imagined.

Is there a relationship problem that is too hard for him? Is there any circumstance that man can face that is beyond his ability? If there is, he is not God.

Things do not always turn out the way we want them to. There are many reasons why we may not see healings or miracles. Lack of ability on the part of God is not one of them. Neither is any lack of love. Jesus is in your boat if you are a Christian. Jesus is the power of God in your boat.

Think about these things. See Jesus asleep in your boat as the storm rages around you. Let the peace of God that he knows cover you like a warm blanket on a cold night. See him stand up in your boat and calm the storm. Let that give you the assurance that there is no power that can stand against the power of God. Jesus is the peace and power of God in your boat.

This is my daughter. Powerful.

Have you ever watched that mom walk out of a store with a bunch of kids trailing behind her and thought….. Whoa! That’s a lot of kids! How does she do it?? You probably have because I rarely go out anymore without being asked that very question! How do you do it??? Well, I don’t […]

via How does she do it?  — Diapers Toys and Messy Joy

From One Generation to Another

Psalm 145:4 (NKJV) 4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.

We just finished our annual leaders conference here at Living Word Christian Center in Greene, New York. I want to thank those who came for helping make it a tremendous success. Our church did a magnificent job as usual ministering from the platform in praise and worship as well as ministering from the background serving and waiting on all the guests.

The name of this conference is B.J. Pruitt’s Unity Through Fellowship Conference hosted by Living Word Christian Center. The purpose is simple. We want minsters, leaders and Christians to get together with the simple purpose of getting to know each other on a personal level. When that happens, our differences seem to fade into the background and the love of God takes control in a very real way. This year we saw people healed and encouraged. We saw relationships established and restored. I personally talked with some old friends that I had not spoken to in years. It was wonderful.

This year was special for our church because on Friday evening we had a service in which my wife and I passed the torch of the pastorate to my son, Joshua and his wife Amy. We started Living Word nearly 30 years ago, and it was a joy to see our son and daughter-in-law pick set in place. They have been doing the work for some time, but now it is official. Praise God.

My son shared this scripture at the end of our Sunday morning service. We had the man my wife and I consider our pastor, Dr. B. J. Pruitt, with us. This was the first Sunday with my son as the official senior pastor. He pointed out that even though some methods and things change, it is the God’s mighty acts that are passed down from generation to generation. I continued the work of Dr. Pruitt both with the Unity Through Fellowship conference and an approach to local church that I largely learned from him. Now my son will continue that process for another generation. It is an exciting thing to see.

In a day where instability seems to be the order of the day, it is a special thing to see something that maintains faith, character and integrity from generation to generation. I believe the world is going to see this and take notice.

I want to mention something else. In this meeting, there were 4 or 5 other former pastors just like my wife and I who have gone through the same process. What is interesting is that none of us are turning our works over because we are too old or weak to continue. On the contrary, for the most part we are healthy, strong and “at the top of our game.”

We went to a restaurant on Sunday and ran into another pastor in the area who had in a guest speaker. She is from South Africa and 3 years ago, she lost her husband and turned her church over to her son. She had gone through the same transition as those in our meeting. I know several others who have either gone through this process or will be in the near future. I do not think this is a coincidence. I believe it is the plan of God.

The Lord has released into the greater body of Christ a flood of seasoned, qualified ministry to help take the church to the place God desires it to be. Some will go to the mission field. Some will help churches and pastors here in the United States and some, like my wife and I, will do both.

Many are continuing to be supported by their local churches which enables them to go without the need for money to survive. It still costs to travel and I believe it is a biblical principle for those who receive of a person’s spiritual goods to provide for their physical needs. That said, no one needs to do without this powerful input because you fear you cannot afford to pay for it. God is providing something wonderful for the church in our day.

If you are a pastor or leader, I want encourage you to make use of this tremendous resource. If you are from another country, there is a group of people ready to serve who have been through what you are going through and have come out the other side in victory. They have answers to questions you have not yet thought to ask. I would like to help make the connection.

If you would like to have one of these people come to minister to you and your people, you can get in touch with me through this blog or through my email, wkiefer@aol.com. My wife and I are interested in coming to your location. However, if we cannot find a way to fit you into our schedule, I can put you in touch with several others who may be able to help you. In addition, if you let me know where you are I may be able to connect you with someone in your region who would love to pour into you and your church.

I do not get anything for doing this. As a matter of fact, it is something I just thought about before writing this post. My heart is to help the local church and ministry around the world be more effective by connecting a resource with a need. Think about it. Pray about it. If you find yourself discouraged and at an impasse, maybe we can help. Those who did this for us in the past saved our lives and revolutionized our church.

Of course, there is another way to meet many of these people as well as pastors and leaders just like you. That is to attend Unity Through Fellowship 2018. We will be here again from February 21st to the 23rd, 2018. We will be posting information on our web site, WWW.Livingwordgreene.com throughout the year. We would love to see you there.

In the meantime, to all the younger ones that have risen to new positions recently, I want to say keep the faith, fight the fight and above all trust in the Lord and you will surely see victory. We gave our son and daughter-in-law what we call a charge when he was set into the position. That means an exhortation to do the work the right way. However, charge can also be an order to attack or go forward. That is what I would like to say to all of you who are a little new to the position of leading the church. CHARGE!!!!! Go forward for great victories await you.

Those of us who are older will be there with you. Encouraging you. Warning you of some of the landmines we have stepped on and doing what we can to make sure you are fully equipped for the battle ahead. Do not forget about us. I know there are many bold new ideas, technologies and methods you are eager to use. You should use all of them. However, there are some things that are eternal. We are here to help.

To the older let me say, be there to help not criticize. Be there to encourage but give room for them to find out what works. There are some things we really do not know. (Hard to believe I know.) I have learned that I need to separate preferences and practices from principles. The principles of the bible must be maintained. Preferences and practices may change.

On the other hand, those of you coming in need to consider that some of our practices worked. There really is no need to “reinvent the wheel.” I asked my son to ask me why we did some things before he changes them. He may still want to change them, but I believe it can help if he understands why things were done the way they were done. Then we have to give them room to try new things if they want.

This is a great day. I believe that together we cannot fail. In some generations, the sons took over because the fathers had worn out. This is not the case today. I believe we are seeing Malachi 4:6 coming to pass.

Malachi 4:6 (NKJV) 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

Jesus is the Promise of God in Your Boat

Mark 4:35 (NKJV) 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”

Yesterday we talked about the fact that the disciples in Mark 4 were fearful because they did not understand who was in their boat. They had walked with Jesus and seen him do great things. They had heard him teach the word of God in authority and power. The very same day they left in their boat they had heard one of the greatest teachings in the Bible in the parable of the sower. Yet when the storm came they could not believe that Jesus would keep them safe. The last verse in the chapter tells us why.

In our lives we go through the sea of life in a boat made out of what we believe both naturally and spiritually. The sea around us is often stormy but we are not alone in our boat just as the disciples were not alone in theirs. If you are saved, Jesus is in your boat as you travel through life. The question is, do you understand who the Jesus in your boat really is?

Jesus is many things to us but I found three things that Jesus was to the disciples during the storm. First, Jesus was the promise of God in their boat. Jesus said to them, “Go to the other side of the lake.” He did not say, “Go to the other side of the lake if there is no storm.” He did not say, “Go to the other side of the lake if you can.” He did not say, “Go to the middle of the lake and drown in a terrible storm.” If Jesus said go to the other side, than the words he spoke contained the power to get them there. (John 6:63)

The disciples not only had the promise of Jesus in their boat, they had the promise giver as well. Jesus was asleep in the boat. All they had to do was look back at him and remember the command he had given. They could have stood in the front of the boat themselves and said, “Storm, Jesus told us to go to the other side and we are going to the other side!” The storm may or may not have stopped but they would have the assurance of Jesus’ words that they would make it.

They did not even have to speak to the storm. All they really needed to do is remind themselves that Jesus said go to the other side. The promise was that they would get to the other side. The promise was not that the storm would stop.

I want you to remember something. In this story Jesus took control and stopped the storm. There may be times in life where you stand up in your boat and speak to the storm of life around you and the wind stops blowing and the rain stops falling and the water becomes calm. Most of the time, you are going to have to spend some time in the storm. The storm may rage around you but if you have the promise of God in your boat you can be assured you will make it to the other side of whatever circumstance you may be facing.

They had the promise giver in their boat. They could have looked to him for assurance. What do we have that we can look to for assurance? We have the same thing they did. We have the promise giver in our boat.

John 16:7 (NKJV) 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

Jesus promised that when he was no longer here in the flesh there would be “anther comforter or helper that would come to us. This other comforter would take his place in the earth and do the same things for us that he did for the disciples. If you are a Christian today the Holy Spirit is in your boat. You can look to him just as the disciples looked to Jesus and know that you are not alone in the boat and that the promise God gave you is sure to come to pass.

You have something else to take the physical Jesus’ place in your boat.

John 1:1 (NKJV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 (NKJV) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. However, the converse is also true. The Word and God are one. We have the written Word of God to look to in our boat. The Bible says that all the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:20) When the storms arise around my boat all I need to do is go to the Word of God and find the promise that applies to my situation. When I have the promise in the Word, I can look to that promise just as the disciples could look to the physical Jesus asleep in their boat.

I do not know what you face today on your journey in the boat of your life. You may face physical sickness, fear or depression. You may be struggling financially or in your family. Whatever it may be, find a promise to look to. If you already have one you have been standing on, read and meditate on it every day. Find other scriptures that support the promise. Keep your eyes on the promise not on the storm.

As you do, you may hear the Holy Spirit say, “Stand up and rebuke the storm!” He is in your boat with you. You may find that the storm simply calms on its own as the Spirit of God deals with circumstances around you. Very often you will have to stand through the storm.

If that is the case, keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your mind stayed on his Word. Know that the Holy Spirit will never leave or forsake you no matter what is happening around you. (Hebrews 13:5)

There is no way to tell you how long it will take to get to the other side. There is no way to tell you how God is going to meet your need. I cannot even promise you that you will never lose anything along the way. Sometimes things happen that we have no answers for. What I can say is that somehow you will get through the storm and get to the other side.

Who is in Your Boat

Mark 4:39-41 (NKJV) 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

This is a very familiar story from the Bible. However, we usually miss some things when we read it. First, this story takes place in one of the most significant chapters in the Bible. Mark 4 contains Jesus explanation of the parable of the sower. This teaching unlocks faith in the word of God like few other teachings in the Bible.

The Bible says in verse 35, that on the very same day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” As they were in the boat on the journey, Jesus fell asleep. As he slept, a storm arose on the lake. Many of the disciples were professional fisherman, and yet the storm was so severe that even these professional seamen were afraid.

We might be harsh on the disciples when we see what they did next, but I wonder how many of us would have done any better. They cried out to Jesus saying, “Don’t you care that we are about to die. How can you sleep through this great a storm? Jesus gets up, stands in the front of the boat and speaks to the storm, “Peace, be still!” To the amazement of the disciples, the wind and the waves obey him and they are saved.

As I read this story, I wondered along with Jesus why the disciples seemed to have no faith in him when they faced the storm. They had lived with him for some time by now. They had seen him do great things. They had just heard one of the most powerful teachings in the Bible and yet when faced with adversity all they could do was question Jesus’ love for them. What was their problem?

As I read the last verse of this chapter, I understood what the problem was.

Mark 4:41 (NKJV) 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

The reason the disciples had no faith even after living with Jesus and seeing who he was and what he could do is that they did not understand who was in their boat. They had heard him teach. They had watched him heal the sick and provide for needs in ways that defied explanation and yet they really did not understand who he was.

I began thinking about the idea of a boat. I am not a good swimmer. I might be able to “beat my way across the water” for a short distance, but if I had to bet my life on my ability to stay afloat in open water, I would lose. When you are out in a boat and you cannot see the shore that boat becomes you whole life. It is your safety. It contains whatever provision you are going to have. It is the only way you are going to get to where you need to go. If that boat sinks, you are finished especially if you swim like I do.

In my thinking, I could see a boat on the open water as a type of our lives. We are on the open water of life. We traverse the expanse of the water in a boat made out of what we believe. If we are unsaved, our boat is made only out of what we know and what we believe naturally. Our boat consists of our ability to provide for our needs. It consists of whatever relationships or resources we have access to that can sustain us or prosper us in our journey. We even use a term when we are in trouble that relates to this nautical idea of life. We say that we must do enough to “stay afloat.”

We all go through life in this boat. If we are saved, we need to understand that we are not alone in our boat. The disciples understood the sea. They were professional fishermen but their knowledge was insufficient to overcome the storm they were facing. They were leaning to what their natural knowledge could provide for them. However, they had a very important passenger in their boat.

They knew Jesus and yet when the pressure of the storm came, they turned to natural knowledge and natural abilities. They knew Jesus was there. They knew there was something special about him. They may have even guessed he was the Messiah. However, under duress they did not really know who was in their boat.

We may know Jesus. We may have walked with him for many years. We may have seen him do wonderful things in our lives but when we are faced with a storm, do we really know who is in our boat? If we lean to our natural abilities or understanding and find them lacking, do we understand who is in our boat with us. The disciples did not.

Let me ask you today. Do you know who is in your boat? When the storms of life arise, do you understand the nature of the savior who rides through them with you? If you are afraid, I can tell you for certain that you do not really understand who he is. If you wonder if he has stopped caring as the disciples did, you have missed the nature of the one in your boat.

Jesus is with you through every storm. If the wind and the waves need to be calmed, he can do it. If your boat seems to be filling with water, cry out to him in faith and he will be there to get you to the other side. Our boat is made up of what we believe just like everyone else’s boat. The difference is our boat is made strong by what we believe about Jesus and who he is in our boat.

Lord and time willing, we will look at who is in your boat over the next few days. In the mean time, know this. Jesus loves you. He is with you and he will be there in any and every storm life can throw your way. Since he is in your boat you cannot fail to make it to the “other side” in your life’s journey.

Mercy and God’s Covenant

Luke 1:50 (NKJV) 50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.

Ephesians 2:12 (NKJV) 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We have been looking at God’s mercy. Although there is much talk about grace, I believe we neglect the truth of mercy. Both flow from the same place in God. Each has a specific purpose and set of characteristics. If we remove mercy from the equation, we may think God’s grace has made us deserving of his blessings. This is dangerous in my culture because we have become a people who believe we are entitled to almost everything. Grace does not mean we are deserving of the blessing. It means we get the blessing even though we do not deserve it.

Mercy is the aspect of God’s love that causes him to withhold what we do deserve. The New Testament is clear that we deserve judgement. God withholds what we deserve because of his mercy. When we remember mercy, we understand and properly respond to grace. On the other hand, if we divorce grace from mercy we forget that he has made us the righteousness of God. We will live in a consciousness of sin that keeps us from receiving (Hebrews 10:2.) We need a healthy understanding of both to properly relate to God and to what he has done for us.

We have learned many things about God’s mercy. This week we have focused on two things. Mercy is a product of God’s sovereignty. He gives it to whom he will. We have nothing at all to do with it. Therefore, we can do nothing to earn it and nothing to lose it. We also have found that mercy, by nature, provides help. Sympathy may make someone feel better. That is a good thing. Mercy does more. It finds a way to help the problem. Grace is the vehicle mercy uses to bring the help we need.

Today I want to look at one more characteristic of mercy. In order to understand God’s dealing with man we must understand covenant. Everything God has ever done in relation to man and his redemption has been through covenants. When Adam and Eve sinned, he covered them with the skins of animals. The sacrifice of those animal’s lives was a covenant action. The end of Noah’s flood resulted in a statement of covenant between God and the earth.

Genesis 9:11-12 (NKJV) 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Perhaps the most famous covenant was God’s covenant with Abraham. The Abrahamic covenant lead to the establishment of the nation of Israel and eventually the coming of the Messiah.

God’s mercy is tied to his covenant. We have found that mercy is a product of God’s sovereignty. God can give mercy to anyone he chooses. In the Old Covenant, the Lord made it clear that he can grant mercy to anyone but he will always grant mercy to those with whom he is in covenant.

We see this in his dealings with Abraham. On two occasions Abraham is in foreign lands. Both times the king of that land wanted to take Sarah as his wife. Abraham tells Sarah to say she is his sister because he is afraid the king will kill him to get his wife. God visits the king and rebukes him but does not rebuke Abraham. Why would he show mercy to Abraham who was guilty but not the king who was innocent? He showed mercy to Abraham because of the covenant.

In the history of the nation of Israel we see God destroying other nations but showing mercy to Israel because they are his covenant people. We see God withhold mercy and judge Israel when they broke the covenant. Israel went into captivity and bondage because they ignored God’s covenant. Whenever they returned to the covenant, mercy was waiting for them.

Why is this important to us? The covenant guaranteed God would show mercy. In Luke 1:50 we see that God’s mercy is on all those who fear him “from generation to generation.” That is a covenant statement. Ephesians 2:12 tells us that we were without hope and without God in the world when we were strangers to the covenants of promise. God may show mercy to anyone. He has proven that he always shows mercy to those who are in covenant with him. We are in covenant with him.

Hebrews 12:22-24 (NKJV) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

When we received salvation, we entered covenant relationship with God. This covenant is not between us and God alone. It is between Jesus and the Father and we are part of it because we are one with Christ. Jesus is the guarantee that this covenant will never be broken. As long as I am in him, I am part of that covenant. God may show mercy to anyone but he always shows mercy to those who are in covenant with him.

When I choose to sin or rebel against God, I step outside of the covenant agreement. Just like the son in the story of the prodigal, I become subject to the death that is in the world. I submit myself to God’s enemy, the devil, and bad things may result. However, just as mercy was waiting for the son when he came home, mercy is waiting for us. As I said a few days ago, repentance is coming home. It is a joyous thing not a sad thing. You will never come home and find mercy is not waiting for you because the covenant is always in place in Christ.

Aside from forgiveness for the sins we may commit, there is another powerful truth here. The devil loves to deal in condemnation. He loves to bring up the past to ruin our present and future. He loves to point to our weakness and condemn us with it. However, we have a covenant with God. Sin requires repentance. Once repented of it is none of the devil’s business. I have a covenant of mercy with my Father. It is his choice to give it and the devil has nothing to say about it. When we understand this, condemnation will be a thing of the past.

Romans 8:33-34 (NKJV) 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

This cannot become a reason to take this mercy lightly. Our only response to such wonderful mercy is to understand that we do not deserve it. We should do our best to walk in a way that is pleasing to our Father. We should flee sin and walk in the spirit instead of the flesh. We should maintain a heart of repentance as soon as we recognize that sin has crept into our lives.

Nevertheless, we can know that God’s mercy will always be there because he always shows mercy to those with whom he is in covenant. Who can bring a charge against me? The Judge of the universe has chosen to show me mercy. In return I show him the honor, respect, obedience and love connected with my side of this unbreakable covenant.

Mercy to Help

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We have been looking at mercy this week and how we can cooperate with what God has provided for us in this great gift. We found in Romans 9:12-18 that mercy is a product of God’s sovereignty. Verse 18 is very clear.

Romans 9:18 (NKJV) 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Grace is received by faith but mercy is a product of God’s sovereignty alone. That means that we can never lose his mercy. He decided to extend it to all of humanity (2 Cor. 5:14-15.) Through mercy he provides grace in Christ Jesus. By faith anyone can receive the grace but mercy is all of God.

We can never lose God’s mercy and it is new every morning. Not because we have earned it or deserve it. The power of mercy is that mercy means we do not deserve anything. It is new every morning because the Lord decided to make it so. The devil can challenge many things but there are no grounds to challenge mercy. God chooses to give it and it is his right to do so.

Today I want to look at another aspect of mercy. According to Holman’s Bible Dictionary, mercy is characterized by care for the needs of others. The biblical concept of mercy always involves help to those who are in need or distress. Sympathy is a powerful emotional force. It is good to know that someone cares about how you feel. However, mercy in the biblical sense is much more than that. God’s mercy does not just sympathize. Mercy helps.

Today’s scripture is one of the more familiar verses in the Bible to anyone who has been a believer for very long. The writer exhorts us to come boldly to the throne of Grace. We do not come with fear or apprehension. We come boldly in faith. We see the same pattern here as in Ephesians. We come by faith to grace.

This is the throne of unmerited favor. This is the throne of what we do not deserve. I find that statement exciting. I do not come to the throne of good works. I do not come to the throne of what I deserve. I do not come to the throne of works nor of law. I come to a throne founded on the principle of grace. I am guaranteed to receive something by faith that I do not deserve.

What is it that we will obtain at this throne? We obtain mercy. Once again, the patterns of scripture continue to be revealed. When we get to the throne we do not obtain judgement. Grace is the essence of the throne. We will get what we do not deserve. The first thing that comes to us is mercy. God assures us we will not get what we do deserve; judgement. We obtain mercy.

However, it does not end with not getting what we do not deserve. On the other side of not getting what we do deserve we find what we do not deserve, grace. The writer of Hebrews assures us that grace will help in our time of need. What brought us the grace to help? Mercy did. It is mercy, as well as grace, that helps us.

When will this help, the product of mercy and grace, go to work? In the time of need. God has put in place these two great forces so that whenever the time of need arises they are ready for us. We only need to come to the throne and obtain the help we need.

Let us talk a little about the throne. The throne is the seat of authority in any kingdom. This is the throne of heaven. It is the highest authority in the universe. There can be no challenge to this throne. God chooses to call it the throne of grace and says mercy is the first thing we encounter when we get there. I do not know if that excites you as much as it excites me, but if grace is the name of the throne of ultimate authority and mercy is what we find when we get there, the devil has no hope of stopping us from victory!

What is it that often keeps us from receiving from God? I have been a pastor for almost 40 years. In that role, I have walked with people through many trials. I know that the first obstacle most encounter is that they do not deserve God’s blessing. The devil will bring up sin. He may bring up the mistakes of life or the things we are not doing that we should be doing. These things can make it hard to believe.

What we need to remember is that we have come to the throne. Thrones do not care what lower authorities say. Thrones make the decision. They may or may not listen to counsel but the decision of the throne is final. We are coming to the highest throne. There is no one higher to whom an appeal can be made. The decision of this throne is final. For the believer in Jesus, this is the throne of Grace where we obtain mercy and find grace that will help.

The devil says you do not deserve the help. The throne renders its decision. This is the throne of getting what is not deserved. The devil say you deserve what you are experiencing. You have not done what you should. You have failed in some area. You are not working hard enough. The throne renders its decision. It hands mercy to the one who comes.

“But they have sinned!” declares the lower court. “They deserve judgement!” The throne has already decided that the comer gets mercy. Although active sin requires repentance, that is evident in the fact that they have come to the throne. You do not get into the door of the throne room without it. The decision has already been made. God has granted mercy and grace is there for the receiving. The highest court in the universe has spoken. All lower courts must cease and desist!

What help will mercy born grace give us? The Bible is full of promises that define the help we can expect. 2 Corinthians 1:20 tells us that mercy and grace have rendered them all available to those who are in Christ Jesus. Look at this verse in the Amplified Bible.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (AMP) 20 For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God.

The promises of help find their yes in Christ. That yes to all God’s promises is what you find at the throne. What do you need? Do not hesitate to come. Do not hesitate to obtain mercy and find grace that will help. Mercy is there always. It is God’s choice to give it and it has provided grace. Receive by faith what grace has provided.

Mercy and God’s Sovereignty

Romans 9:13-16 (NKJV) 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

Yesterday we looked at the pattern from Ephesians 2:8 that governs all that we receive from God. We are saved by the vehicle of grace and access that salvation through faith. The same goes for all the promises and blessing of god. Grace, unmerited favor, provided them for us. We did not and cannot earn them. However, it is by faith that we access what God provides. The focus of our discussion has been on another part of the equation that we usually discount.

Ephesians 2:3 (NKJV) 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

This scripture goes against what we want to believe about humanity. Secular humanism, upon which much modern western philosophy is based, believes that man is inherently good. This scripture must lead us to a different conclusion. All people are by nature children of wrath. Because of the nature passed upon them by the fall of Adam, all humanity became inherently evil at its heart. Society and religion have controlled this evil but it always seems to find its way out often with catastrophic results.

Ephesians 2:4 (NKJV) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

This verse shows us how God deals with this nature. His rich mercy born of his great love sent Jesus to deal with it so that he could make grace available. Mercy comes before grace. Without his mercy, we could not have grace. Paul understood that both were vital to our Christian experience.

1 Timothy 1:2 (NKJV) 2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

If mercy is so important to us, we must understand how it works so that we can cooperate with what the Lord is giving us in this great gift. The first thing we need to know we see in today’s scripture. The context of this verse is the story of Jacob and Esau. Paul is pointing out to us that God chose Jacob over Esau even though Esau was, by tradition, the rightful heir. This choice occurred in the womb. Neither child had done anything to deserve being chosen or not chosen. However, God chose Jacob.

As they grow, it becomes evident that Jacob is not deserving of this choice. He is not a particularly good man. Esau is not much better but he is his father’s favorite. As she felt the children struggling in her womb, God had revealed to Rebecca that the older would serve the younger. He was God’s choice. This makes no sense to our natural mind. It seems unfair.

As time went on, Jacob won the birthright by deceiving Esau and his father. This seems even more unfair. Esau seemed to be a nice enough fellow if somewhat simple. Jacob did not deserve God’s favor. In verse 16 Paul ties this story to God’s mercy. What an interesting choice for him to use to describe mercy. He makes the connection again in verse 18.

Romans 9:18 (NKJV) 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

God does not operate according to our social or cultural rules. Paul makes it clear that God is not open to judgement for his decision. He shows mercy according to his sovereignty. The fact that he shows mercy exempts him from being judged by us. He is God. He shows mercy by his will not by our performance or behavior. Where mercy is concerned, it does not matter “how we run.” It is all up to God’s choosing.

How does this impact us? Paul is using this extreme example from the Old Testament to make it clear to us that mercy has nothing to do with us and all to do with God. Grace is dependent on our faith in terms of whether we receive it or not. If that is not the case than everyone is already saved. This is not biblical.

Mercy has nothing to do with us. It is given according to God’s sovereignty. God chooses to whom he will extend mercy. In Christ, he has chosen to extend it to everyone. Accordingly, he extends salvation by grace to any and all who will accept it by faith.

If I am in Christ I was saved as much by his mercy as by his grace. I am sustained by his mercy as much as by his grace. If I sin, I am extended his mercy which gives me the right to access his grace and forgiveness (1John 1:8-10.) He is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death. Why does our sin not separate us from God as Adams’s did? Because ermcy provides access to grace, the free gift, which is eternal life.

Since mercy is all about the sovereignty of God, it is never influenced by what we do. It is there by God’s choosing alone. No one can earn it. No one can question it and I cannot lose access to it. It was not mine to earn it is not mine to lose. I did not even receive it by faith. God extended it and it is his right to do so.

That is why his mercy is new every morning (Jer. 3:20-23.) It is his to sovereignly give and his to sovereignly withhold. In Christ, he has decided that he will never withhold it from us. Sin opens the door to consequences that sometimes cannot be avoided. Sex creates children. Sex outside of marriage that creates a child is a consequence that God will not simply make “go away.” However, mercy is always there to give you a way back. It never ends. Your account is reloaded every day.

The last thing about mercy and God’s sovereignty is that he sets the terms for accessing it. The story of the prodigal son from Luke 15 is one of my favorites in the bible. The son rebelled against the father’s authority to serve his flesh. He took the father’s wealth and squandered it on an ungodly lifestyle. He deserved. judgement from the father. Instead, we know that the father extended great mercy to him. The son did not get what he deserved.

However, we must remember that the mercy was there when he came home. The father did not go after him and try to convince him to come home. He had to choose to come home. When he did the mercy of the father restored all that it was possible to restore to him.

God’s mercy is there for all of us. It is new every morning. Since it is a product of his sovereignty, we can do nothing to either earn or lose it. Nevertheless, in order to walk in that mercy, we must come back to God. He will not come to us. He will draw us in many ways, but in the end, we must change for he never will.

There may be reasons you believe you do not deserve the blessing of God. You are probably right. The truth is none of deserve God’s blessing. If you come back home, you will be met by mercy every time. That is what repentance really is. It is coming home. It does not matter what you have done. There may be unavoidable consequences, but God’s mercy will help you find a way through them and return you to the fullness of blessing his grace paid to make all of this available to you.

Mercy Comes Before Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

One of the hottest topics in the church right now is grace. There is a great deal of disagreement over how the grace of God affects behavior. Some say that because grace paid the price for sin, behavior is irrelevant. Others believe that the response to God’s grace should be a life lived in holiness to God. I think that the question exists because we do not understand the fullness of the love of God.

When I last wrote in this space, we looked at Lamentations 3. God’s mercy is new every morning and his compassion does not fail. 2017 is a year of new beginnings for us. I believe it can be for you as well. Mercy is a clean slate. It has nothing to do with behavior. This is true not because grace has made us deserving of God’s blessing. It is true because it assumes we do not deserve blessing but judgment.

Compassion is the aspect of God’s love that moves him. He sees our condition and in compassion he identifies with us and moves towards us to meet our need. In the Garden of Eden God could have been moved by many things. Man had rebelled and disobeyed God. He could have said, “You brought this on yourself. I will not do anything for you.” There were unavoidable consequences to man’s sin but God was not moved by judgment. In Genesis 3:15 we see God moved by something else.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

God tells the devil that he is going to redeem man. What moved him to begin the process that would lead to Jesus? Man deserved judgment. However, God was moved by compassion. He identified with man’s condition and was moved to act on his behalf. We have made this statement already but I think it bears repeating. Compassion is what moved God to act. Mercy is what governed his actions.

Today let us begin to put this into a New Testament context. I believe Ephesians 2:8 is a pattern that extends beyond salvation to all that God has for us. We are saved by grace. That is the agent that makes salvation available. Grace is that aspect of the love of God that gives us what we do not deserve, while mercy is the aspect of God’s love which keeps us from getting what we do deserve.

While grace is the agent that God used to make salvation available we find that faith is the vehicle through which we receive the salvation grace provides. This is the pattern for everything we receive from God. We do not deserve the blessing of God but grace makes it available. Faith is what we used to access, obtain and walk in that blessing. Whether we are talking about salvation, healing, prosperity, victorious living or victory over sin, the process is the same. Grace provides it apart from our works and faith, not our good deeds is how we obtain it.

This is where we sometimes get a little confused. Some say that since everything in our relationship with God is by grace, what we do does not matter. Even if we sin grace kicks in and we are forgiven. However, the one who understood grace more than anyone else indicates something else.

Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Where the NKJV uses “Certainly not!” the KJV says, “God forbid!” I think that says it even better. The only proper response to God’s grace must be Paul’s. If God gave me what I do not deserve I must find out what his will and nature demand and live that way. I must consider what pleases him and what grieves him. The revelations contained in things like the Ten Commandments and even that law go far beyond a set of rules or do’s and don’ts. They are a revelation of the character of God.

My response to getting the forgiveness I do not deserve must be to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. It cannot be to live my life pleasing to myself and my flesh because God has already forgiven me. I say with Paul, “God forbid!” Aside from the current debate about grace, I think that all of us fall into the trap of allowing our flesh to rule us knowing that God will forgive us. Why do we receive something as wonderful as grace and allow it become a license to our flesh? I think the answer lies in our lack of understanding of mercy.

Once again, let us remember that, where grace is God giving us what we do not deserve, mercy is not getting what we do deserve. This almost seems like “double talk.” Are they not the same thing said from two different perspectives? Not at all. They are very different. Before God can give us what we do not deserve he must find a way to withhold what we do deserve.

Romans 5:15 (NKJV) 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

Romans 6:23 (KJV) 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This verse makes it clear that the gift

These two scriptures make it clear. The free gift is eternal life. However, the wages of sin is death. We deserve death. In Romans 3 it is even more clear.

Romans 3:23-24 (NKJV) 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

We are justified by grace because all have sinned. The wages of that sin is death. It was death in the Garden of Eden, it was death under the Old Covenant and it is death today. Our wage for sin is death. Grace gives us something else. If we get what we deserve, it is over. There will be no one to receive the free gift. We needed something before grace. We needed mercy. Mercy withheld what we deserved so grace could make what did not deserve available.

How should that affect you and me. It should affect us the same way it affected Paul. We tend to focus on the fact that we cannot earn grace. That is a powerful truth. If we could not earn it to begin with we cannot earn it now. However, we forget that before grace came mercy. Not only are we unable to earn grace, we do not deserve it. We deserve judgment.

Let me close for today with one more scripture from Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:3 (NKJV) 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Once we see a verse that makes all the same before salvation. We were all “by nature” children of wrath. We all deserve wrath. It is mercy that withholds the wrath so that we can obtain grace by faith. So, although it is true that we live by the grace of God, we also live by his mercy. My behavior cannot earn me what grace purchased. Nevertheless, my behavior should reflect the mercy that went before grace and made grace possible in my life.