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Sermon On The Mount

by George D. Knepper

Ninth and Final in Series (see previous months)

By G. D. Knepper

Big Creek Church of Christ, Louisiana

June 29, 1958

 

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy.”  Now I spoke last for a few minutes on this, about philosophers who are spending their time and their thoughts, and their brain power trying to find a way of life that brings happiness.  And I spoke last night about it being a road to happiness.  It is not a road to happiness.  I think a much better term would be the road of happiness.   You are going to be happy as you travel this road.  In other words, in the Sermon on the Mount in these first 7 beatitudes, Jesus is teaching you the road of happiness.  Not particularly the road to happiness, but the road of happiness. This is the road which will be lined up with happiness for you.  Now I think that it is very, very striking that there is seven of those.  There are two more that I am going to pay attention to in just a minute.  But it is these first seven that are particularly significant.  The last two are the results of the first seven.  And the number 7 is the perfect number with God.  So I think it is very significant that Jesus packed into these 7 beatitudes the road of happiness.  May I say again, that if you travel that road, you will find real happiness?  The kind that the world cannot take away from you.  That suffering, pain, sickness, sorrow, troubles of all kind can never take away from you. It will be the road of happiness. Nobody has traveled that road as Jesus told him to travel it without finding the peace that passes understanding, the joy that Christ has.

Now, as I said last night, of course the philosophers have been searching for that, but they have searched on the lower plain, the plain of the world.  Oh, they try to lift it.  They talk about the spirit. Spiritual things, but they don’t mean what Jesus meant when he told us to travel the straight and narrow path, or travel the kingdom of heaven way.  The philosopher just can’t believe that sort of thing so he has tried and tried hundreds and hundreds books I suppose have been written on the subject.  Men have spent their time trying to enumerate, while all the time, just as I told you last night, we have packed in these 7 beatitudes that any one that can read can understand.  Now   the reader can’t go to the depth of them but he can understand and put them into practice.

This is a great one we are going to study tonight, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” is very, very necessary.  It is extremely necessary if you are going to travel this road of happiness, because, the fellow who refuses to extend mercy is going to be a very unhappy chap.  So we begin our study tonight.

Turn to Matthew 5:10Matt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Now watch that!  Don’t confuse it with the next one.  You are persecuted for what purpose (reason)?  For you righteousness!  For your goodness!  You are persecuted because you are walking the narrow way! Because you are functioning in the kingdom of heaven, you are persecuted for your righteousness.  Now read the eleventh verse.

Matt 5:11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Now why are they persecuted?  Because they are actively promoting Christ!

In verse 10 you are persecuted because of your goodness, just as I told you about the girl who was persecuted by her girl chums with whom she used to run around with.  Now she has come back home from college and she is being persecuted by them in a mean and hateful way, because they can’t understand why she won’t go along with the things she used to   and won’t go along with the crowd.  She is being persecuted for her righteousness, or for her goodness (I think I like the word “goodness” better, as we understand it better, and that is the way Williams translates it.)  For her goodness, because she is seeking to do as God wants her to do. Follow Christ.

In the 11th verse you are actively promoting Christ and the kingdom, see?  You are actively at work promoting the kingdom of Christ and you run into persecution, and believe you me that is worse than the other (v10), because in that persecution (v11), if they dare to, they will put you to death.  They don’t to in this country, now.  But there is coming a time, folks, when they will put you to death for the name of Christ.

So, do you see why Jesus is getting you ready for that time?  That is the reason we have got to build into our lives these things that he has been teaching us. Because if you don’t get ready for that time you will not be able to resist!  Make no mistake if you are living when the Anti-Christ takes over and he is compelling every one to take his mark or else take a chance and probably would be put to death.  Some who have not gone all the way with Christ must expect this and prepare for it, or we will give way and accept the mark of the Anti-Christ.  And all who do are simply banished with him into eternal hell.  Folks, it is a deadly dangerous thing.  Jesus is teaching us something here that we had better take to heart.

What I want to get at tonight is: you are going to need mercy and you are going to need to be merciful to obtain mercy. You see, Jesus is getting you ready for that and teaching you what it is all about. Now then, that becomes (is) objective. The first three grow within a person: being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness is subjective.  Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is something that you feel, but we have to be objective to be satisfied. With this fourth one we are completely objective. You are showing mercy to somebody outside of you.  And other persons become completely involved in your doing. The reason you are going to get happier is “It is happier to give than to get.”

You are not “GETTING” now, you are giving.  And since God gives, you are getting to be more and more like Christ because you are giving.  Don’t let anybody spoil that “blessed” for you by standing and telling you that you have to give so much money.  Don’t let anyone spoil you with that.  That is reducing giving to a cheap level.  I have been in revivals where practically every night where the talked about what a sacrifice the preacher is making and they have to raise so much money.  Don’t you ever do that when I am here, because I will never come back if you do!  Don’t reduce this, “Give and it shall be given unto you” and “It is more blessed to give than to receive” to the level of money.   I don’t mean that it isn’t more blessed  to  give money than  it is to receive it if  you are giving it to feed the  hungry or to clothe somebody, or do something like that.  I don’t mean that it isn’t more blessed.  But, folks that is reducing it to the lowest common denominator.  That isn’t what Christ is talking about at all.  He is talking about giving yourself, pouring yourself out into the lives of others.  Give and it shall be given unto you.  It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Well now you are becoming objective.  Jesus is saying to you, “Be merciful and you will receive mercy.  I other words, be merciful and God will extend mercy to you.  He is saying that if you show mercy you will be blessed in doing so.

This beatitude is quite popular with the super religious student who never digs into the meaning of mercy.  He confuses it with pity so it becomes quite popular.   I pity somebody so God is going to pity me.  If God only pities me, then God pity me, because I’ll tell you right now that I need it. If God never went any farther  than to pity me, if he said to the angels, “Now I pity that poor fellow there  on earth, and the kind of life that he is living.  He has sinned, and he is dead in his trespasses and sins, and he is going to spend eternity in hell and I pity him.”  What will that have gotten me?  Nothing!   Do you see that mercy goes beyond pity?  Pity can stand around  shedding tears like the man whose house burned down.  All his furniture went up in smoke and the people were sitting and standing around saying, “Well, isn’t that just too bad, isn’t that terrible?”  Then one man took of his hat, threw in a ten dollar bill   and said, “That’s how much I pity him. How much to you pity him?”  He told them to do something about it.

We are not talking about pity at all to night.  The tears could run down my cheeks for someone who is destitute, in  need, or sick, or something like that, and it would not mean a thing in the world. Not a thing.  God wouldn’t give me a particle of credit for it.  Remember I read from James where he said, “What does it benefit you if you just say ‘well, I hope you will be lucky, I hope somebody will give you some food, I hope you will be lucky,’ and doesn’t do a thing about it.”  That would be pity, folks,  I could pity a fellow.  But that would not be mercy  at all.  Mercy goes far, far beyond that.

Look at Matthew  18:21-35. Matt 18:33-34  Look at the heart of it all in verse 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’

What was wrong with that fellow that owed the large sum of money?  He didn’t have mercy.  Now you have two things revealed to you there about mercy.  You extend mercy to the fellow who is either indebt to you, or who has wronged you.  You can pity somebody what hasn’t done you any ill or doesn’t owe you anything, but you extend mercy to the fellow who has wronged you or is in debt to you.  That will come out as we go farther along in our study tonight.  A servant of a man was hopelessly in debt to him, and the king, rich man,  master, or whoever forgave him of the debt.  This servant goes out and finds a fellow servant who owed him and threw him into debtor’s prison when he couldn’t pay.

Just keep that story in mind as we go along with our study tonight, because you have those two factors: (1) a person is indebted to  you in one way or another and (2) he has wronged you. Those are the people  to whom you extend mercy.

A  blind girl was asked to define mercy and this was her definition of mercy: “The odor that a flower gives of when it is trampled upon and crushed.”

What kind of an odor to they give off when they are sealed shut in a bottle?  That is just what happens to the mercies of God are shut up in your life.  They are just like that flower sealed in the bottle. But if you extend the mercies of God to others it is like the odor that flowers give when they are trampled upon and crushed.  Mercy is a wonderful thing, folks.  No  wonder Jesus put that in and said, “Blessed are the merciful. (Happy are the merciful)” They give of the odor as if it were flowers trampled upon.

Now mercy always has with it the element of justice.  That is the reason it is not pity.  It isn’t even compassion alone. Justice is always involved. The man owes you something or he has wronged you, and justice says you can get back at him. Justice!  Get it? Mercy always has the element of justice in it. I probably will use this scripture again, but we read that God is the justifier of those who believe in him.   It always has the element of justice.  That is what makes it so difficult for us. We don’t want God to inflict justice on us, do we?  Do you want God to give you just justice?  If we got justice, what would we get?  I don’t need to tell you we wouldn’t want what we got! So God not only is just, but the justifier of those who believe in Jesus Christ.  And that is the reason folks, that I must not exact justice from the man who has wronged me or who owes me.  Do you see?  If they go into court to take you coat, you do what? Give them your cloak, too.  If they strike you on one cheek, justice says strike back.  (Only hit him a little harder, of course.)

I’m going to read what Portia said  to Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice after awhile, but I don’t  want to do it just yet.

Turn to Romans 3:24-26 Under this divine “system” a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.  God has appointed him as a means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective  in ourselves by faith.  God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in this present time that he is a just God and the justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ.  Does that go home?

Now when you get forgiveness or forbearance, or something like that without the ingredient 9f justice you are going to create trouble.  You will have spineless hypocrisy.  When I expect God to show me mercy without justice, it is going to create in me spineless hypocrisy.  That is just what we have done with our children, because they are not disciplined in school. That is what we have done with our schools.  We create in these children the lack of responsibility, not the feeling of responsibility.  Now, if God would justify me, if he would just say, “Well your sins are forgiven…”  But what did he do so my sins could be forgiven?   Gave his Son!  Now, by giving his son so that the son becomes propitiation for my sin, because Jesus took my sins in his body on the tree, the God is both just and can justify me.  That is what he is saying there.  Now love without justice is no good at all.  It creates hypocrisy.  Justice without love – law-righteousness is cold, hard. Justice!  The law-righteousness!  What did the Pharisees do with that woman taken in adultery?  They were going to kill her.  That was law-righteousness.  The spirit of the law:  Jesus told her to go and sin no more.  Do you get the difference?  One is love with justice.  That woman knew that he was not excusing her from her sins, that he wasn’t excusing her from being a sinner.  The Jews were going to put her to death without  love.  That’s justice without love.   Jesus had justice with love.

Now let’s turn to James 2:13 (Phillips) The man who makes no allowances for others will find none made for him. It is still true that “mercy smiles in the face of justice.”

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy…” See, that is what he is saying and it is still true, “mercy smiles in the face of justice.” In other words there is a smile of his face when he extends mercy.  In a murder trial and the jury brings in  the guilty verdict  —  this is true in Ohio, and I am sure it true in other states too – what can keep that man from going to the electric chair? A recommendation for mercy!  You see, that is mercy with justice, justice with mercy.  Justice says, “You took a life!”  The law says if you kill a man you are guilty of death, but if mercy is extended to that person, his life is spared.  Are we getting anywhere?  Mercy is a tremendous word, folks.  Believe me, it is hard to do.

Now we even have word forbearance.  Which, is a good thing!  Forbearance is a fine thing, and lot of us have pride in ourselves for our forbearance.  In other words, somebody wrongs me and I won’t retaliate.  He did me a wrong but I think I am a big fellow, a nice fellow, so I don’t do any thing back to him.  I don’t retaliate.  That isn’t mercy.  In other words, when the fellow struck you on one cheek, you didn’t hit him back.  Is that what Jesus said? What did he say? Not only do you forbear hitting him, but  you actively turn the other cheek. That is mercy.  The fellow compels you to go one mile with him – the Roman soldier might come along, and it didn’t matter what you were doing, or how busy you were that day at all, and he could compel you by the law, since the Jew was practically a slave                                       of the Romans at that time, to carry his pack a mile.  And believe me you had better do it.  Now what did you feel like doing after you went the mile?  Would you feel like saying, “My you are such a nice fellow,  I am so happy to have met you this morning.  It was so nice of you to have me carry you pack.”  Is that what you would say to him?  Now then you forbear. You don’t say that.  Is that enough?  That is forbearance.  You don’t explode and tell him what you think of him,  so you are a great fellow, you are forbearing.  Is that enough?  What did Jesus say to you? Go with him another mile.  That is mercy.  Do you get the picture?  Do you see that forbearance and not hitting back is not enough.   You go beyond that. What did Jesus say? “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees

Matt 5:45-48 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

What am I doing  more than others?  That is what Jesus is asking. Do you know about the Nile river?  It overflows every year.  Now they don’t  have any rain down toward the mouth, towards its source. But they have heavy rains in the Spring in the mountains of Abyssinia, and the Nile overflows.  Then when it goes back into its banks it leaves new soil every year.  It is the overflow.  And folks, that is what it is with you.  It is the over-plus of your life. “What do ye more than others.”  Not do I do as much. You know I have heard church members say, “Well, I am doing as much as so-and-so is.”  That has nothing to do with it.  I don’t care how much so-and-so is doing. Is that  the amount I should do?

Now it is more than forgiveness, folks.  You know sometimes  we say, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”  That isn’t enough. I’ll forgive but I won’t forget. Oh, no, no folks, we don’t do that.  I’ll forgive but I won’t let him forget.  That isn’t forgiveness, and that isn’t mercy at all.  So don’t confuse that with mercy.

Here is what one fellow wrote would make him happy. A fellow by the name of Heine: “Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are: a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. Before death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime. One must, it is true, forgive one’s enemies– but not before they have been hanged.” ― Heinrich Heine

Now watch your step – what you might be thinking about  your enemies.  “God, I wish you would do something to that fellow.  He has hurt me.  He has done me wrong, so God. you do something to him.” You’ve got to watch yourself for that.   Now are you beginning to see that his mercy is quite a big thing?  Now what a contrast with Christ   and his enemies.  Did Christ want to see  his enemies hanging from trees? What did he do for them?  Asked God to forgive them.  What did Stephen ask for  his enemies when they were killing him? “Don’t lay this crime to their charge.” Do you see what we are aiming for?  Do you see the goal we are striving for.  “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as  your heavenly Father is perfect”  We are striving for that, things that are in God, and one of the great attributes of God is that he is merciful.  He loved us when were not only dead in trespasses and sin, but when we were enemies of everything that was good and right.   He still loved us.  And did he inflict justice upon us?  Oh, no folks.  All of us adults know better than that.  God didn’t inflict justice upon us, but he remained just.  And opened the way by which he could be just – never gave up his justness – and still justify me, extend mercy to me.

Now then if I want to get back at that fellow that has done me evil – a true story is told of a young man who was called into the armed forces.  He was engaged to a young lady, or she was engaged to him.  He had a good job, and he gave up both the good job and marrying his fiancé until he came back.  While he was in the armed forces, his friend not only took his job, but married the girl he was supposed to marry.  When he came back after a while this companion who had done that, got into very deep trouble, and this young man who had been wronged by that man had the power to just simply crush him and everybody thought he would do it.  But instead of that, this young soldier who had been wronged,  whose job  and fiancé had been taken by the other man did all he could to keep that man from going to the penitentiary.  That folks is mercy.

What kind of character or Christian manhood would you say that reveals? Big or little?  Great manhood!  It takes a real man to do those things.  Now what I want to bring your attention to is this:  if I fail to extend mercy,  it is unerringly pointing to my littleness.  I am being cheap and little, and I can pretend and try to make a showoff myself and all of that,  but it is no use.  I am cheap, I am small, and I am little.

Now here are some things to remember.  After a while the young man’s body stops growing in stature.  Does it hurt him?  Does he feel any pain when he stops growing? No! After a while we stop growing mentally.  Does it pain us in any way?  After a while your conscience  closes up. Does that hurt you any?  You don’t feel any pain.  Folks, here’s the thing to watch out for.  When it doesn’t cause you any pain as you stop growing spiritually, you had better watch out.  When a man stops growing more and more like God he ought to feel, what?  Pain.  Blessed are they that hunger and thirst, blessed are those who feel poor in spirit.  Now you can stop growing spiritually and remain a balanced person with out any particular pain or hurt.  But it ought to hurt.

This fellow Shylocks in the Merchant of Venice had made a bargain with a man.  He lent him a lot of money and if the fellow didn’t pay that  money back at the right time what was to happen to the man? A pound of flesh was to be cut off his chest closest to his heart.  Well, everything went wrong with this man.  He thought he would have plenty of money when the time came due, but when it came he didn’t have any money at all. And Shylock said, “ I am going to  have justice.  The law says that I can have one pound of flesh from this man nearest to his heart.”  He hated the man desperately.  Then you have this girl Portia who loved the man in peril who is involved in this affair.  Portia dressed up like a man and went in as an attorney for him.  Here is one of the things she said in a plea for him: “Consider this, that in the course of Justice, none of us would see salvation.  We do pray for mercy, and that same prayer doth teach us to render deeds of mercy.”

Do you see? I’m  asking God for mercy and that prayer doth teach us to render deeds of mercy. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. She had something there, didn’t she?  To me that is a wonderful story.

All right, it is a lot easier folks to be upsetting than uplifting. A lot easier to be upsetting that uplifting!  It is a lot easier to hold back the hand of forbearance than to hold out the hand of mercy.  It is a lot easier to keep from hitting that fellow than it is to turn the other cheek.  It might be hard enough not to hit back, but it is a lot easier to hold my hand back than it is to turn and let him hit me on the other cheek, I’ll tell you that.  It is a lot easier to take, let’s say, gracefully, his suing you at law, taking your coat, but is a lot harder to hand over your cloak  then afterwards.  Do you get it folks?  Do you see what Christ is calling us to do?  Do you believe that people like that in your community would be spoken of as they spoke to the disciple?  They were turning the world upside down!  Sure, if  we were all living like that, they would think we were crazy, wouldn’t they?  They would go into court and try to have us put into and institution, I imagine,  if we all were living like that. When the mind stops growing, it doesn’t hurt us.  When the body stops growing, no pain. When the conscience stops growing,  a lot of times we are not hurt alt all. And listen to this.  Do you feel the hardening of the arteries at first?  And  by the time the doctor discovers it you could be just and instant from dropping over dead and nothing can be done about. There is no pain in hardening of the arteries.  Hardening of the heart can come the same way as hardening of the arteries.  You begin by shutting down the heart little by little, and you don’t feel it.  After a while, when you harden your heart to the needs of others, you are in deadly danger.  That is the reason I extend mercy.  That keeps my heart soft and pliable.  It keeps me in the right attitude toward my fellow man.

Mercy is one of the great attributes of God.

II Corinthians 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

Father of what? Mercies!

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

Do we begin to see  that mercy is one of the great attributes of God?

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope…

What kind of mercy? Abundant mercy!  1 Peter 2:10.. who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Once you hadn’t received mercy, but you have now.

I want to look at a case  where God extended mercy.

Neh 9:28-31   28 “But after they had rest, They again did evil before You. Therefore You left them in the hand of their enemies, So that they had dominion over them;Yet when they returned and cried out to You,

You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered them according to Your mercies, 29 And testified against them, that You might bring them back to Your law.  Yet they acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments,But sinned against Your judgments, ‘Which if a man does, he shall live by them.’ And they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear.

30 Yet for many years You had patience with them, And testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; For You are God, gracious and merciful.

What had those people done?  Sinned terribly!  Well, what did God show them? Twice in that reading!  On two different occasions he showed them mercy.

Luke 6:36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

What am I to do? Be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful. See why I have to grow and be like God?  Do you see why I (have to) feel poor in spirit?  Do you see why I (have to) mourn? Do you see why I (have to) hunger and thirst for righteousness.   You will never be merciful as God is merciful, I’ll tell you that, until you have some degree of every one of these “blesseds.”  Until you have passed through these.  If you join a lodge you have to pass through certain degrees.  Well, you have to pass through these.  Do you begin to see what I mean when I say you don’t stop at the door once you get into the kingdom?

We must look to God for the power to be merciful. Get this! It is fundamental! We look to God for the power to be merciful.  Then who do we look at?  The man who needs mercy!  Don’t look at him first.  Look at God first and realize that God has been merciful to you.  Then look at that person to whom you need to extend mercy.  Then you will be able to do it.  But if you look at the man first you are not apt to  follow through with mercy.  What did Stephen do?  What did he see?  He saw Christ standing at the right hand of God. Then he said, “Father do not lay this sin to their charge” Look to God first.  Send up a prayer to God that you can have power to extend mercy to the one over whom you have the power and the right to do something to him.  Am I clear?  You have the right and power, but you forbear, extend mercy, not just forgive, but you go  beyond that, and extend him mercy.  Now, to just see people, and not see God – what does that do? What did it do to the Pharisee when he saw that Publican?  It  puffed him up!  That is what it can do.  When I see those fellows  up there on the street corners drinking and carousing and all that I can say is, “God I am thankful I am not like other men.”  But when I look into the face of God, when I look at Jesus nailed to that cross, and I see Jesus standing before Pilate, I look at Christ stripped and beaten, and see people spitting in his face knowing that he did it for me, I see that God did not exact justice from me,  that he exacted justice for me from Christ.  Then what do I do?  I extend mercy to those fellows . And I pray to God for it.  Then, like Stephen and Jesus,  “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.  That is mercy folks.  Active mercy.

Luke 6:36   Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  NKJV

Ex 32:30-34   And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

Ex 33:2-7    And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3 Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.  4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

5 For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.

6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

These people were guilty of what before God? and he was going to wipe them off the face of the earth.   Moses pleaded mercy for them.  He was willing to step into the breach saying if God blots out the people he would be blotted out with them.   God had told him to get out of the way and after he blotted them out he would make a nation from Moses.  When God threatened to consume them it gives you some idea of the awfulness of their sin.   God did not want anything more to do with them.   Yet Moses is pleading for mercy for them.

Heb 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Now this is what I want to get at:

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What are the steps that I go up to get to that Throne of Grace?  I am going to give you three steps  that if you ever approach that Throne  you will have to go through..

First, pondering and meditating God’s mercy.  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” So ponder God’s mercy.  Meditate on how much mercy he has shown you.  God’s love! God’s holiness!  Get them deep into your heart.  You are going to take the step up to that Throne of Grace.  You are going to ask God for what? Mercy! It will make us feel humble, grateful and hopelessly in debt.  It will, if you do it honestly.

Secondly:  His divine mercy makes us repentant of our failures and sins.  Doesn’t it?  When you think of God’s divine mercy extended to you, doesn’t it make you hate sin?  Sure! We are going up to that Throne of Grace and be made repentant for our sins and failures. That means we take on the responsibility of those who have wronged us asking forgiveness for them, too.

The third  step, folks is this:  We take the suffering of others and their shortcomings to heart, realizing no cleverness or power of ours can heal. You are hurt by them.  They hurt us deeply.  Those sins and failures of those around us hurt us deeply.  But we ourselves can’t do anything about it, so yoked to Christ in meekness, we share his passion for the suffering people.

Now we approach the Throne of Grace to find mercy and help, and then to share that. I want to refer to an illustration I used this morning involving a drowning blind boy.  Did that strike you?  The awful terror of that  boy!  He is blind and in danger of drowning.   Which way shall he go to get ashore?  Where’s the shore?  Where’s the shore?  Where ‘s the shore?  He doesn’t know which way to try to swim.  He doesn’t know whether he is swimming into deeper water or towards the shore.  And folks, a lot of people you come in contact with are in the same condition.  They don’t know how to find the shore.  They don’t know where the shore is. Sure they are sinners. So am I So are  you! So are we all!  So we go  up to the Throne of Grace  and ask for vision.   Ask for passion for the souls of men — passion that Jesus Christ had.  And we ask God  to help us to be merciful, not try to crush them.  Maybe they are in debt to us, maybe they have wronged us.  What were those “Blesseds” in vv 10-11 “Bless are  you when me persecute you for your goodness.  Bless are you when the persecute you for the name of Christ..”  And yet you are to extend mercy to them.  Not try to frighten them.  Not tell them they are going to hell.  Offer them heaven, instead of trying to push them to hell.  Isn’t that what Jesus did?  Sure!  The only people he talked that way to were hypocrites who had gone so far they were hopeless. Very, very few of the hypocrites were among the saved when Christ was here.

Here is Portia again.  You ought to read that.  He gets  you to hear that girl standing up there pleading  – here’s Portia speaking to Shylock

 

the quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
It is mightiest in the mightiest,
It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
An attribute to awe and majesty.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power dost the become likest God’s,
Where mercy seasons justice.

 

“The quality of  mercy is not strained”… you don’t strain out that quality of mercy.  –“..but droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven.”  You know what a gentle rain is.  It just sort of floats down! It isn’t strained.  It doesn’t have a wind driving it. ..”it just drops as a gentle rain from heaven on the place beneath.  It is twice blessed.  It blesses him that  gives  and him that takes.” That is beautiful, folks,  That’s what mercy does to you, doesn’t it?  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”  It not only blesses the one you are extending mercy to, but you are blessed  extending mercy.  It is twice blessed. And therefore, happy are those who are merciful.  That is not the road to happiness, it is the road of happiness.

There are four things that mercy will do for you:

In the first place it will melt your heart.  It prevents you from getting “hardening of the heart.”  When you are extending mercy, when you are in a condition with God, when you see yourself sufficiently so that you extend mercy, it will melt your heart.  It will soften the heart. Keep it soft! There are a lot of people with soft heads, I think, but not so many with soft hearts.

In the second place, and this is very significant, it purges poison.  What is poisoning your spiritual life?  Hate, jealousy, envy, trying to get back at the other fellow, that poisons you folks. The doctor will tell you that when you get angry, poison is poured into your blood-stream. Actual poison! Extending mercy purges that poison out of you.  You don’t hate the fellow you are extending mercy to.  You are not jealous of him.   You are not envious of him.  You are not trying to get back at him.  You are not trying to hurt him.  It purges you of poison.

In the third place:  It blesses the one that receives.  That is the great thing.

In the fourth place, it blesses the one that gives.

What were the three letters I said you find over the heads of some children in the hospitals? “L.T.C” Loving tender care!  And if you are merciful you will be able to extend, loving, tender, care to those who need you and someday when you meet God face to face, you will be more than happy then.   You will have happiness that just overflows because you have been like God, like Christ.  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”  And as you extend mercy, to the one that can injure you, the one that has injured you, the one that  has wronged you, the  one that owes you a great debt that he can’t pay, you still extend mercy to him; pray for him; ask God to help him; don’t hold it against him.  “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget.”  Oh. No. no, no.  That is  purged out of you.  You extend mercy.




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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13