Friday, September 22, 2017

We Cry Out: "Lord, Have Mercy!"

   The recent hurricanes, earthquakes, and global politics have struck at our hearts and causing many to cry out “Lord, have mercy!”  Of the portions of the Church’s liturgy that are ancient, perhaps none is more treasured and prevalent than the Kyrie Eleison – “Lord, have mercy!”  This cry resounds throughout the Holy Scriptures and remains one of the most natural and human prayers. 
   WHY?  Because of our tenuous status in this creation.
We find ourselves vulnerable and under attack from the elements, from one another, from disease, from calamities and trials.  In times of trouble we are suddenly awakened to the fact that we are living under the Almighty power of God and are undeserving of His goodness and care.  Stripped away are the myths of our self-sufficiency and control over our own lives.  Left grieving and empty-handed we have nothing left but to turn our eyes to our Creator and cry out for mercy . . .
   Jesus heard the cries of lepers, blind men, and a mother whose daughter was possessed by a demon.  With compassion, Jesus turned His eyes to their situation and brought healing, sight, and restoration.  This same Jesus hears our cries for mercy today.  His eyes are turned toward us with compassion and love.  He beholds the plight of His people and responds.  Every. Time.
   But our eyes are often veiled and cannot see His response.  To some of us He brings us deliverance from our troubles - this is visible and celebrated.  To others of us He gives strength and peace to endure the hardship - this is REAL, but often invisible.  It is faith and trust in the God of love and compassion that assures us that the Lord indeed hears our cries for mercy and acts on our behalf.  
   When you feel tempted to doubt whether the Lord your God hears your cries or cares to deliver you, remember the cross of Jesus Christ.  For throughout human history there has never been a more crystal clear demonstration of God's mercy.  Generations, weighed down by their sins and disobedience, had cried out for mercy.  On that great and dark day Jesus died sin was paid for and debt cancelled.  Through His very own body Jesus opened a way into the presence of the Father.  And when Christ arose on the third day, mercy was put on display for all creation to behold.

With hurting hearts and trusting faith we will continue to cry out:
"Lord, have mercy;
Christ, have mercy;
Lord, have mercy"

A few points to ponder:

  • When do YOU cry out for mercy?
  • Have you ever seen a child of God show peace, comfort, and/or joy in the midst of trouble?  How are these the compassionate response of the Lord to the cry for mercy?  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Love Often Hurts

   Hearts & Chocolate are everywhere. The Hallmark Channel is geared up with romantic marathons. LOVE is in the air . . . Valentine’s Day is here! For several weeks, as a service to the public, television and radio ads have been urging men to purchase the right card and the shiniest diamond on the market.  But is love really that easy? As a pastor I have often seen love in the trenches.  Some of these examples include:
Spouses showing grace to one another in difficult times
Parents loving their children in spite of their rebellious words and actions
Dying friends being cared for with gentleness and sacrifice

  These children of God were living out the lyrics to Toby Mac's song “This is What Love Feels Like”
I am tired, I am drained but the fight in me remains 
I am weary, I am worn like I’ve never been before 
This is harder than I thought, harder than I thought it’d be 
Harder than I thought, takin’ every part of me 
Harder than I thought so much harder than I thought it’d be 
But empty’s never felt so full 
This is what love . . . This is what love feels like 
Poured out, used up, still givin’, stretching me out to the end of my limits 
This is what love . . . This is what real love feels like 
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   When we reduce LOVE to merely a warm-hearted feeling, we diminish it and risk losing it altogether! How blessed we are to have a God Whose love for us survives our bad behavior, our unfaithfulness, our rebellion, our addictions, and our overall unworthiness of such mercy.  As the Gradual we’ve been using in worship the past several weeks declares: great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever”   Psalm 117:2
   The Lord loves you to the point of HIS pain and HIS death. Jesus hanging on the cross is what love looks like.  Love is the toughest of all emotions, called upon to sustain us through the most horrible and testing times of our lives.  We can love because God has first loved us.  His love, shown to us through Christ, brings us life, peace and hope.  We have a future because God’s love for us — even when we were extremely unlovable - compelled Him to sacrifice Himself to pay the price for our sins.
   My prayer for you is that you never forget how much you are loved by your God.  And I pray that this love will overflow in and through your life to those around you.
To God be the glory!

A few points to ponder:
  • Is it difficult for you to believe you are loved by God?

  • How are the Lord's steadfast love and His eternally enduring faithfulness good news for you?

  • How can you better reflect the Lord's love to those around you?