Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
“The (one) who walks along the path of life lives in the presence of the joy-giving God. Just insofar as (we) are true to that path of life, and wander neither to the right hand nor to the left, (our) joy becomes deeper, and we become partakers of that very fullness of joy in which God Himself lives and moves and has His being. And while such is our experience in the midst of all the trials of life, we have also the privilege of looking forward to grander things yet in store.”
W. Hay Aiken
Today’s Study Text:
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.”
Psalm 23 Part 25
“Mountains of Mercy”
“The Lord is gracious, merciful, and full of loving compassion.”
How would I define the word mercy?
In what ways has God bestowed His mercy upon my life?
“Since Christ is the incarnate display of the wealth of the mercies of God, it is not surprising that His life on earth was a lavish exhibit of mercies to all kinds of people. Every kind of need and pain was touched by the mercies of Jesus in His few years on earth.”
“Today’s mercies are for today’s burdens. Tomorrow’s mercies will be for tomorrow’s problems.
If you were asked to do a job search and the individual who you wanted to recruit had to display certain characteristics in their life in order to be effective at their work, what qualities would be at the top of your list?
After spending time digging into the character traits of goodness and mercy, it came to me that if everyone on earth contained these virtues in their lives, what a wonderful world it would be.
Thankfully, Psalm 23:6 promises us that without a doubt, not only is goodness at the heart of our Shepherd’s being, but that the Guide we are following is also merciful.
If we check the definition of the word “mercy,” we find that in a most practical sense, mercy is a “disposition to be forgiving and kind, providing compassionate treatment.”
This definition matches the words found in James 5: 11 where we are told that “the Lord is very pitiful (Greek: ‘Extremely compassionate’), and of tender mercy.” It does us well to remember that these words were penned by the brother of Jesus. Someone who we know spent a great deal of time following Jesus’ ministry.
I want to take a few moments to scrutinize the gift of mercy, which as David tells us is a quality that is present in our Shepherd. Pastor Gary Simpson shares this insight in his commentary on Psalm 23, “Mercy is made necessary and nonnegotiable soon after “humans” were created. Prone to both mistakes and missteps, sometimes deviously yet strategically placed, at other times just because of circumstances and surroundings, we need mercy.”
In order to better explain, in terms we humans can relate to, exactly what the gift of mercy is about, Pastor Simpson relates this anecdote:
“There is an amusement park in the Midwest where the grounds crew, the street sweepers, were dressed in formal clothing – the men in tuxedoes with tails and the women with long, flowing formal gowns. Their simple task was to clean up behind the guests who threw garbage on the park grounds. They walked the streets with such extravagance just to clean up behind inconsiderate and thoughtless guests. Always smiling, always dressed impeccably. After a while, a guest was embarrassed to have such nobility picking up behind them. This is what God does. Not with grudge or spite. This God extravagantly picks up behind us, follows us.”
In his concluding words on God’s gracious mercy to His fallen children, Pastor Simpson summarizes with this touching thought, “We need mercy behind us, sweeping up the refuse we have inadvertently left in our wake; we need mercy to erase even the memory of our sins as God casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. Shutting doors that no one can open.” And I might add, not even ourselves. For what right do we have to dig up the dark and dirty places in our lives that God has, in His mercy promised have been deposed of as the prophet Micah tells us, “He will again have compassion on us: He will subdue and tread underfoot our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea: (Micah 7: 19, Amplified Bible). And if this isn’t enough to lift our hearts in joyful gratitude for our Father’s merciful kindness toward us, then we have to look no further than the words of Isaiah who reminds us that God promises to, “blot out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins” (Isaiah 44: 22, Amplified Bible). Is it any wonder that the Psalmist was so certain of God’s goodness and mercy that he began by saying, “Surely…of a truth…our Shepherd is good and merciful.”
It was in 1889 that Edward Hayes Plumptre penned these poetic words: “Thy mercy will not fail us, not leave Thy work undone, with Thy right hand to help us, the victory shall be won.” As author Robert J. Morgan so beautifully pens, “It’s in God’s nature to be merciful, forgiving, and benevolent. He surrounds our lives with acts of grace we could never earn by our own efforts, all because of His loyal and steadfast love for us. Goodness represents all He bestows on us that we don’t deserve. Mercy represents all He withholds that we do deserve.”
“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea,
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.”
Frederick W. Faber
“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercy and loving-kindness: for they have been ever from of old…according to Your mercy and steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness sake, O Lord.”
“Though waves and storms go o’er my head,
Though strength and health and friends be gone,
Though joys be withered all, and dead,
Though every comfort be withdrawn,
On this my steadfast soul relies,
Father! Thy mercy never dies.”
Johann A. Rothe
(1799 – 1867)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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