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God’s Mercy – The Bottom Line

In our walk through Paul’s letter to the Galatian church, we now come to his closing remark.  It’s the summation of his entire teaching.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.  Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Galatians 6:14-18

When you walk in legalism, trying to please God by your good works, it’s the basis for boasting.  After all, I can always find someone that I’m better than, at least in my own mind.

The true walk in the spirit requires us to rely on the Lord.  That means I can only boast about what He’s done in my life.

According to the Apostle, this walk will supply you with peace and mercy.  I’ve already talked about peace in a previous post, so today I’ll deal with mercy.  It’s important for believers to understand this concept.

If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture.  Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance.  Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job?  The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy.  The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill?  According to his friends, it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect.  Job was being trained for a higher walk in God.  As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children.  In order to get them to obey, you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.”  Adults don’t live like this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices.  But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein.  Notice the motivation that should propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law?  Maybe it’s in view of the promises?  NO!!!  It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar.

That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be.  In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine.  The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly.  Why do we make this life-altering decision?  It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire.

No strings attached; no hidden agendas.  “Lord I want to know You because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.”  We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Judgment and Mercy

In my last post I talked about the judgment of God that we all need to be prepared for. James completed his thought by talking about mercy.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
James 2:12-13

But what is this mercy? I believe that our generation has no concept of what this word means.

When we use the word mercy it’s usually when we’ve done something wrong. We want to be shown leniency, so we say, “Please have mercy on me.” This is not the Biblical concept of mercy.

It’s interesting to note that two times were recorded in the Gospels where Jesus made the same statement to the Pharisees. In both cases they were condemning Him for what He was doing. He did things like eating with “sinners.” The Pharisees were thinking, “How can the power of God work in you if you do that?”

Jesus had a stern rebuke for them.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Matthew 12:7

This statement was directed at the Pharisees, But I have to admit that when I began studying about mercy I had no idea what He meant by it. I had always quoted the verse “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This view of the mercy of God was new to me.

If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters. For a detailed teaching on the mercy of God, click here.

This is why James talks about the fact that mercy triumphs over judgment. God would much rather reward your faithfulness than discipline you. It’s the same with sacrifice in the above verse. The Lord would rather reward your obedience than forgive your sin – even though His forgiveness is unlimited.

This knowledge of the mercy of God should color all we do in our relationships with other believers. If God wants to show us His favor, then we should have that same attitude toward fellow Christians.

James is clear on how we’re to do this. First of all, we’re to speak to each other in the understanding that the one we’re speaking to is under God’s favor. Why would I treat someone badly, that God loves and favors?

To do that would be to invite God’s discipline. It’s like that in any family. When someone is mean to their sibling, they’ll definitely get a time-out.

The second part has to do with our actions. Sometimes they speak more loudly than our words. How do we treat each other?

When we refuse to participate with fellow believers, it’s a sign that we don’t favor someone that God loves and wants to work with.

An understanding of God’s mercy is what should drive us forward. We need to let it work in us to live and act as Jesus did. Then we’ll see the results of God’s work in us and in those around us.

Question: How have you seen God’s mercy operate in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and Hope

ThroneI’m posting about the hope that we have in Christ. In my last article we saw that the living hope we receive is birthed in God’s mercy.

The problem I find is that many believers have no concept of what God’s mercy is. In our society we think of it as a “free pass” for something wrong that we’ve done. God can’t operate like that.

Every sin has to be paid for. That’s why Jesus had to go to the cross. Every sin, no matter how small it seemed, had to be laid upon Him.

Mercy is a whole different matter. If you do a word study of how mercy is used in Scripture, you’ll find a rich truth. In actuality, mercy is the favor God shows to His obedient children. That was brought out in the book of Hebrews.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

If I’ve been disobeying the Lord, then I definitely don’t have confidence in approaching His throne. But as I obey Him, He births in me a living hope. It will never die and never go stale. According to the Old Testament, His mercies are new every morning. This is something that helped the apostle Paul face his many trials.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17

In Christ we have a hope that’s birthed, brand new, each day. Why does God have to give us fresh hope each day? It’s important because…

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

This verse literally says that old hope wears out your heart. So God keeps His hope alive and fresh each day if you’re walking obediently before Him.

In my last post we looked at a verse from Peter.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1 Peter 1:3

It’s clear to see that this Living Hope is given through the resurrection. Our hope could never be alive if not for the resurrection. If God could raise Christ, then I can be raised as well.

That’s good news. Not only did Jesus take my sin with Him to the cross, but He rose from the dead as well. That proves that He has the power to accomplish His will in my life. This should inspire a fresh hope in us each day, as we spend time in His presence – before His throne.

Question: How does the Lord’s mercy and hope affect you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Sonship

 

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Our Living Hope

Cross SunsetI want to take a few posts to look at the hope we have that’s talked about in I Peter 1:6-9.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

This truth is seen all through the Bible. It’s one of those teachings that we don’t want to hear. The fact of the matter is that we will all face trials and challenges.

Yet in spite of all this we can walk in the joy of the Lord. It’s also good to know that in those trials our faith being perfected.

In all of this, Peter understands that there’s a problem we face.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

The problem is that we don’t see the Lord. Because we can’t see Him we must operate by faith. We have to trust in His Word to us.

Of course faith always has a goal. Our goal is to see God’s life-changing power at work in us. Because we look to this goal by faith, it inspires hope – expectation – in our hearts.

As we continue to walk with Christ, we learn more about His ways. This causes us to love Him more and more.

So actually, the trials of life are foundational to our spiritual growth. They produce faith, hope and love in us as we continue to look to the Lord. These are the three essentials that we can’t live without if we want to live a life pleasing to God.

Of all the apostles, Peter had the best handle on this. When it came to persevering under trials, there was no one else like him. When Paul and Silas were in jail they had to start singing to keep their spirits up. When Peter was in prison, chained between two guards, he actually fell asleep!

The question is; how can I rejoice in trials? The secret is in the verses before these.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1 Peter 1:3

We’ve been given a Living Hope, an expectation of what God’s going to accomplish in and through us. It’s this living hope that causes rejoicing in the trials. The prophet Jeremiah understood this truth.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.
Jeremiah 17:13

He knew that the hope of Israel was the Lord, as the spring of living water. Israel missed it. I don’t want to miss it.

It’s clear from the above verse that the Lord’s mercy gives birth to a Living Hope. Hope is birthed in His mercy. In my next posts I’m going to expand on this thought.

Question: How has placing your hope in Christ changed your outlook?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and Perseverance

MountainI’m continuing the series about understanding God’s mercy. If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance. Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job? The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy. The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill? According to his friends it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect. Job was being trained for a higher walk in God. As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children. In order to get them to obey you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.” Adults don’t live like this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices. But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein. Notice the motivation we’re to use to propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law? Maybe it’s in view of the promises? NO!!! It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar. That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be. In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine. The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly. Why do we make this life altering decision? It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. “Lord I want to know You, because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.” We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

This is why I made such a bold claim earlier in this series. This isn’t something that you can just try for a day. It would be just as foolish as trying a diet for a day, and then saying that it didn’t work. If we want the benefits of mercy, then this walk must consume our lifestyle. Only then will we have that “blank check” in the spirit.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:14-16

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and Sacrifice

surgeryIn my last post we saw Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for not understanding God’s mercy. The Lord said that God desired mercy and not sacrifice. I want to look at this truth. It’s through the power of God’s mercy that Jesus ministered the way He did.

So I ask you, do you want a higher walk before the Lord? Do you want to live above the promises? Do you want to walk as Jesus walked? If so, then you must learn what God meant when He said, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
Hosea 6:1-2

At this point in history, Israel was broken. But God was looking forward to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. They could be healed of their grievous wounds.

Please understand that they had the same problem with God that we have sometimes. It’s all a matter of perspective. From their perspective God was wounding them, cutting them and hurting them. From God’s perspective, He was performing open heart surgery.

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

Hosea calls the people to acknowledge God. The literal Hebrew means to know by seeing and experiencing. The phrase press on means to pursue. We pursue God in order to know and experience Him. The object should not be to know about Him, but to know God in person as He truly is.

“What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.”
Hosea 6:4-5

Here God is showing Israel how they respond to Him. He tells them that their love like the dew or a mist. It’s here for a short time and dissipates in the morning sunlight. Think about the church of today. Sunday mornings we sing and cry out about our undying love for the Lord. We tell Him that we can’t live without Him.

Right after the service, however, that love burns off like the dew. It’s because of this that God said He has to perform the surgery. So the Lord carved His people by the prophets, stabbed them by His Word.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6

Here is the heart of the matter. This is the desire of God for His people. He desires us to obtain mercy by obeying Him out of a heart of love for Him. Mercy is all about pursuing God simply to be with Him.

Many in our present generation miss this. They pursue God, but it’s for healing, for prosperity, for a better job, or a new car. Many pursue God for the things that He can give us, not because we simply want to know Him more intimately. The walk of mercy is a walk that seeks to know God for who He is in that secret place.

Questions: How is your pursuit of God characterized? Why do you pursue God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and the Power of God

Lightning 3In my last post I started talking about the mercy of God. I believe that it’s very different from what we think it is.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

This is the power of God that changes us day by day if we’re submitted to it. As good as this verse is, that’s not the end of it. We usually miss the point because there’s a chapter change right after that verse. The original has no such break in the writing. This thought continues into the next verse.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1

What we need to realize is that it’s through the power of mercy that we have ever increasing glory manifest in our lives. It should be obvious by now that our tiny view of mercy is inadequate to explain the great depth of this truth. The best part is that we can approach the throne of grace to lay hold of this mercy. At this point I want to show you exactly what it is.

Since it brings the power of God into our lives, we know it’s not by the law. It’s interesting to note that two times were recorded in the Gospels where Jesus made the same statement to the Pharisees. In both cases they were condemning Him for what He was doing. He did things like eating with “sinners.” The Pharisees were thinking, “How can the power of God work in you if you do that?”

Jesus had a stern rebuke for them.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Matthew 12:7

This statement was directed at the Pharisees, But I have to admit that when I began studying about mercy I had no idea what He meant by it. I had always quoted the verse “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This view of the mercy of God was new to me.

The first thing I notice is that this is a desire of God. It’s not a command or a law. This means that the obtaining of mercy is optional. It’s not something that you need to have for salvation, or even for your growth in the Lord.

As a matter of fact it’s very rarely used in the body of Christ, because in this generation we strive to live by the promises. I’m here to tell you that living the walk of mercy is above the promises.

The walk of mercy is a blank check in the spirit. I’ve heard many preachers in the past talk about faith and the promises and they’ve said things like, “You can have a blank check from God, just fill it out by faith.”

The trouble is that I’ve walked what they preached and it didn’t work quite the way they said it would. In this case, however, I know for a fact that the walk of mercy brings you to that level. It’s how Jesus Christ Himself operated. You would never hear Him quoting promises to build up faith, He just spoke out the Word and it happened. That’s the type of walk I am talking about.

This is not an easy Word to fulfill. I’ve only started down this road myself, but I’ve already seen the “first few drops of rain” in the spirit. In this series you’ll find out what it will take to walk at this level of power.

Question: How is your view of God’s mercy changing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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