Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Gifts of Power - Faith and Healing

In order to move in acts of power the Holy Spirit has made available to the church charismata – literally, gifts of grace. Nine are recorded in 1Cor 12.7-11. In vs4-5 of the same chapter Paul emphasises the complete involvement of the Godhead, placing the Holy Spirit first in the list: There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Paul is removing any sense of superiority or inferiority that believers may feel about their gift; a point he will return to later in the chapter, (see vs15-26). The distribution of gifts is nothing less than the work of the Spirit. Charismatic theology understands these gifts to come in groups of three, the word or speaking gifts of prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues; the gifts of revelation, word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning of spirits and gifts of power, faith, healings and miracles.

It is important to see that these are not natural endowments that we are all born with. We are not talking about talents, gifts or abilities that make up who we are. We can of course argue that these too come from God. But Paul is talking about something further. This is an empowering to do things not learned through natural processes. It is Spirit empowered ability. Luke 5.17 says, “The power of the Lord was present to heal”. There was a special sense of the Spirit’s presence and the manifestation was power to heal.

These gifts are said to be manifestations of the Spirit. Someone can go unnoticed in a crowded restaurant until they get up and sing! They were there all the time but once they stood up and opened their mouth they ‘manifested’ themselves. So it is with the Spirit. He is always present but not always manifested. In order for that to happen He needs a vessel; someone available to step out in faith and operate in a gift.

Further these manifestations are said to be, ‘for the common good’. In other words the gift is for the benefit of others primarily, not the one who exercises it! This had become a problem in Corinth where gifts were like a status symbols, paraded to show the spirituality of the operator. Paul hits this hard. They are not for you, they are for others. Through them we serve others and bless others.

There has been some debate as to Paul’s meaning of the phrase ‘gifts of the Spirit’. ‘Of’ can be understood to mean origin, like Saul of Tarsus, or Jesus of Nazareth. In other words, this is where they came from. Likewise, the gifts come from the Spirit. He is the source and originator of all gifts. They are Heavenly in origin. John the Baptist declared, “A man can receive nothing unless it comes from Heaven”, John 2.27.

But there is another way to understand ‘of’. It can take on a possessive sense as in ‘belonging to’. For instance, “David called one of his men”, 2Sam 1.15; “After the death of Saul”, 2Sam1.1. Both these references have a possessive sense. The Holy Spirit is not only the originator of the gifts, they continue to belong to Him and He is free to distribute them as He sees fit. Some view this distribution happening at the new birth. Each of us receives at least one gift and we must learn contentment with what we have received. Peter Wagner tends to take this view in his book, “Your spiritual gift can help your church grow”. But there is another way of understanding this.

1Cor 11.17-34 and 1Cor 14 are specific instructions about how to order the public meetings with reference to communion and the use of gifts, specifically prophecy and tongues. The teaching on spiritual gifts in sandwiched between these two texts that deal with praxis, (what we do). So it is possible to understand Paul to be saying that in any meeting the Holy Spirit is present with all the gifts. He will manifest Himself according to the faith and expectation of those present.

Paul even advises the Corinthians which ones to desire the most – in a public meeting, 1Cor 14.1-5. For the man who has a tongue but there is no interpretation Paul challenges him to pray for it, 1Cor 14.13. This simply makes no sense if gifts are permanently distributed. Also, if people with certain gifts are absent from the meeting then there is no expectation from the congregation that God can move. People can take a passive stance and rationalise, “So and so with the gift of healing is not here today, what a shame, that’s not my gift”! However, if we see that all can move in the gifts at any meeting then we are no longer passive. Rather, we challenged to be the one the Holy Spirit uses.

When it comes to spiritual gifts I find it helpful to see three phases of development. There is the gift, the ministry and then the office or role. Take prophecy. All can prophecy, 1Cor 14.1,24. All can operate at the level of what is sometimes called ‘simple prophecy’. The focus is edification, exhortation and comfort, 1Cor 14.3. But when a person finds themselves doing this with so much regularity it becomes clear that they are developing a prophetic ministry. I have experienced this over the years, especially as I have travelled more and more. Somehow new contexts allow me the freedom to move at a higher level of prophetic ministry. When this happens with increasing regularity there is often an increase in the level of revelation that a person moves in. They are now operating in the role of a prophet.

My point is simple. The gifts belong to the Spirit and He distributes them to whoever He wills. But Paul says we can desire them. He will not give them to those who do not want them. God works with the responsive. Those who are hungry are the ones who are filled, Matt 5.6. So cultivate a hunger for the gifts of power. They often make a way for gospel to be received and lead people to praise and worship God for His greatness.

Remember, even though we are looking at these gifts individually, they often function together in tandem or clusters; tongues with interpretation, prophecy with words of knowledge or wisdom, discerning of spirits with healings are some typical examples. Let’s begin with the gift of faith. This is not the same as saving faith that Paul speaks of in Eph 2.8. This is how we get saved, through faith. Nor is it the same as growing in faith. This is part of our daily walk with God where we learn to trust Him more and more. Abraham experienced this when God told Him to offer up Isaac. He had walked with God for a long time by now. He reasoned in His heart that God could raise him from the dead and would in order to fulfil His own promise, Heb 11.17-19. This is the maturing of faith.

But the gift of faith is different. It is the ability given by the Holy Spirit to certain believers to discern the will of God and to act on God’s promises with extraordinary confidence that it will happen. In other words they have a ‘know-so’ that what is asked for will come to pass, even before it has happened. Like Heb 11.1 says: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen".

Jesus speaks of this in Mark 11.20-26. As they pass a fig tree that Jesus cursed the previous day Peter is astonished to see the tree is withered from the roots. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach them, “Have faith in God”, or more accurately, “Have the faith of God”. (The Greek scholar A T Robertson says, “in Mark 11:22… we rightly translate ‘have faith in God’, though the genitive [the Greek case] does not mean ‘in’, but only the God kind of faith.” A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 500).

Some argue that because God is the object of our faith. How then can we argue He has faith? True, we put faith in God. But we also express our faith through words, words of power that release acts of power; words that come from a place of conviction in our heart. What we say expresses our faith. In this sense we can have the faith of God, for this is exactly how He operates. When He speaks He does not doubt in His heart that what He says won’t happen. Rather, He is supremely confident that what He says will happen. It is how He created the world!

Jesus tells us we too can have that kind of faith. Notice also that in the Mark passage there is a place to ‘pray’ and then a place to ‘say’, Mk 11.23-24. It is in the place of prayer that we discern the will of God. It is here that wait on Him until we get a conviction. But having gained a conviction there is no need to keep praying. Now we move into the next phase. We say. We speak out what we believe in our heart. This is what releases acts of power.

Peter is an example of this in Acts 9.40. Tabitha had died. Peter was called. He knelt and prayed. Luke doesn’t record the content of his prayer, but my sense is that he simply asked God if it was her time to go. Most of the other believers did not believe it was her time. They grieved. Peter prayed and got a conviction. Then he looked at the body and said, “Tabitha get up”. Astonishingly she opened her eyes and sat up. First he had to pray then he had to say. Notice the outcome, “This became known all over Joppa and many people believed in the Lord”, Acts 9.42. This one act of power brought many to faith in Jesus. Awesome!

For those moving in this gift they need to be careful that they act on their faith. They must own their decisions without making others feel guilty for not seeing what they see. Those who ask you questions and want to plan do not necessarily lack faith. Don’t see questions as a threat. See them as an opportunity to clarify what you believe God has said. Finally always listen to the wise counsel of Spirit-filled believers. Those with the gift of faith often push out ahead of others. But the line between presumption and faith is thin. Older leaders can often help you discern the difference.

The second gift of power mentioned is gifts of healings. Both gift and healing are in the plural in the Greek. Clearly there are many ways and means of bringing about healing through the Spirit. Healing is built into creation. Whenever we cut ourselves our bodies automatically begin to mend. When we are sick, we see a doctor. We don’t want to stay unwell. But this gift is not rooted in nature or medicine. It is a spiritual endowment that releases the power of God against sickness. It is the varied abilities that the Holy Spirit gives to certain believers to cure illnesses and restore people to wholeness. Sickness has many causes some physical, some spiritual and some emotional. This is why there are plural, gifts of healings.

Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and then, “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those that have leprosy, drive out demons”, Matt 10.7-8. All of these can be seen as forms of healing. They all require a different approach. The important thing to understand is that He has given the church authority over sickness and spiritual gifts of healings are often the way we are to deal with it. This gift of power was constantly used by Jesus and something He wanted His disciples to understand and use. It was part of His message which was communicated through words, works and wonders. It needs to be part of ours too.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Acts of Power

Not only is the church given a message to proclaim – it is also given a mandate to display acts of power in the Name of Jesus. Let’s begin by looking at how the power of God is recorded in scripture. Genesis begins with the most understated display of God’s power – Creation. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.... And with this simple introduction we are brought into the presence a God who is so awesome in power that all He has to do is speak and things come into being. It is what the theologians called creating, ex nihilo, literally, out of nothing. Needless to say, God was not obliged to create the world. He was not constrained by anything within Himself or by anything outside of Himself. His only motive for creation was to share something of His own perfection. It was an act of love. He also preserves the world by the same almighty power that brought it into being, Heb 1.3.

I call it understated because it only occupies one chapter, two if you include the more detailed record of man creation in chapter two. No detailed scientific explanation is offered, that will be for future generations to try and figure out. The one thing that God wants us to know is that He is the originator of all things. He needs no help, no contribution and no advice. And in the mystery of creation we are told that, “His invisible attributes are clearly seen.....even His eternal power and Godhead”, Rom 1.20. The psalmist declares that, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows forth His handiwork”, Psalm 19.1-6. The voice of creation is a language that is universal and understood by all.

It is this power that is referred to over and over again when God is introduced, especially to those who don’t know Him; Abram to the King of Sodom, Gen 14.22; Jeremiah to wayward Israel, Jer 32.17 and Paul at Mars Hill, Acts 17.24. It is the first article of faith of The Apostles’ Creed: I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. So it has first place in both the Bible and the faith of the Church. At the end of sixth day, with the creation of man and woman, God designates His work as “very good”. I take this to be a reflection of His nature. He is good and therefore what He makes is good. Further, what He intends for those who occupy His creation is also good. All the trees in the garden where good for food, accept one and God warned Adam about it – His goodness did not leave him in ignorance. But with the entrance of sin came chaos and death. Within 6 chapters the world is finally judged with a flood and God begins again. Here is how Dr. Richard S. Hess Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow puts it:

The solution for mankind and the world could only be found in a new creation in which God would restore the lost order of the first creation with the same creative power with which the original creation was set into motion. This began to occur as God called and created a people in the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. He ordered this people with His own laws and sought to guide them through history. The same word for creating the world is used in Isaiah (chapter 40ff) to describe the creation of God’s people and his re-creation of them after punishing them with temporary exile.

God’s power is not only demonstrated in creation, it is present in redemption. This is the word used in the Bible to describe how God went about freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It is picked up by the NT writers to describe our deliverance from the power of sin, Gal 3.13; Rev 5.9; Eph 1.7. It literally means; to buy back. He did this with awesome displays of power that left no-one in doubt as to who the God of Israel was. Each plague was a challenge to the gods of Egypt. One by one they fell until the Egyptians acknowledged the greatness of the God of Israel. This became a prototype of how He saves people today. He takes on the powers that enslave us and through Jesus they are nailed to His cross, Col 2.14-15. Their power is broken through His selfless sacrifice.

Paul exalts in this when he talks about the resurrection, Eph 1.19-23. He sees this as the greatest demonstration of God’s power, because it breaks the power of death, Heb 2.14-15. Death is a daily proof to the world that we live in a fallen and broken world. Yet, through the resurrection, Jesus is exalted to the highest place of honour and authority. In that place He now acts as head of the church. His authority is now extended through the church.

Let’s unpack this text in Ephesians; “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” Think about that. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working towards us who believe. We must have faith. That’s what it means to believe. They are the same word in the Greek. When we are in a place of faith then we are positioned to receive God’s power; power that is described as, exceeding, great and mighty. Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus is that they would know this power in their lives, Eph 1.17-18.

It was while Paul was in Ephesus that Luke records all the unusual miracles that were worked through his ministry, Acts.19.11-12. Luke goes on to tell the story of the seven sons of Sceva who tried to copy Paul’s deliverance ministry. Though they failed, the outcome was that many believed and renounced their occult practices and turned to the Lord. Clearly this was a demonstration of the working of His mighty power.

This power is seen in the NT as the breaking in of the age to come, Heb 6.5. The age to come is when Jesus will reign as King and has put an end to all rule and authority, 1Cor 15.24-26. But we can taste and experience the power of the age to come now; for the Kingdom of God is, “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, Rom 14.17. His reign is present now, in the Holy Spirit. This is why there are so many encouragements in the NT to be filled with the Spirit, Eph 5.18. And it is a repeatable experience. The same group who were filled in Acts 2 met for prayer in Acts 4 and were filled again, vs31. The outcome was bold witness.

In Eph 5.18 Paul uses the present continuous tense. We could better translate the verse by saying be, continually being filled. Further this is in the imperative mood. This means it is a command. You have to obey it or you are being disobedient. Just as we are commended to pray so we are commended to be filled with the Spirit. One last thing about the Greek here; it is in the passive voice. This means that we cannot fill ourselves. God has to do it. All we can do is position ourselves to be filled. That’s what they did in Jerusalem. They were with one accord and prayed. Again in Acts 4 they came together in unity and prayed. They asked God to act – and He did.

Let me encourage you to position yourself to receive a fresh filing of the Spirit. How will you know it has happened? There were the dramatic signs in Acts, earthquakes, shaking and prophecy. But Luke says the ultimate sign was their bold witness to the name of Jesus followed by acts of power, miracles, signs and wonders. Remember, the same power that conquered the grave lives in you. Let me focus on three things the power of God enables us to do.

He helps us to live righteously. Without the Holy Spirit we are powerless to overcome sin. It is only our new nature in Christ that can overcome the power of the enemy. In Rom 8.1, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”. The power of the law of sin is superseded by the power of the Spirit. Planes don’t fly because gravity is suspended. They fly because planes are designed to take advantage of the law of aerodynamics. The new law supersedes the old one, and tons of metal remain in the air, despite gravity. So it is for us. We still have bodies of sin, prone to temptation. But we also have the life-giving power of God to draw upon. Our victory is always, through the Lord Jesus, Rom 8.37; 1Cor 15.57; 2Cor 2.14.

The book of Acts opens with Jesus final farewell to His disciples. They are told to wait, “for the promise of the Father”, Acts 1.4. He is of course referring to the Holy Spirit. They have already been commissioned to go in His Name, John 20.21; Matt 28.19-20. But before they are to begin their mission they need power. Notice that this power is in order to witness. It is missional. The Holy Spirit is not given to make us feel better, though that may be a by-product of being filled with His presence. He is given in order for the church to fulfil the great commission, witnessing to Jesus in every part of the world, with power and authority.

The Spirit empowers us to also do the works of Jesus. John 14.12, Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father. Notice how Jesus connects the greater works with His return to the Father. This is because once seated at the right hand of God He poured out the Holy Spirit on the church. Now we too can do what He did. It is described by Jesus as greater because it is the whole church worldwide doing what Jesus did. It is no longer limited to one man and His few disciples. It is now a worldwide movement – the body of Christ.

As you begin to expect God to move through you, position yourself through prayer to receive a fresh filling. Don’t settle for anything less than your full inheritance. And remember, the power of God is most active at the circumference of the church; the place where the church is extending itself into new territory or reclaiming lost territory. If you want to taste and see God’s power in a manifest way, then be willing to visit a country where God is moving. Live as they do for a while. It will wean you from an overdependence on Western comfort and convenience that often stifles faith. It may even take you to a new place of expectation for what God can do through you - right where you live.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Acts of Mercy

Mercy is an intrinsic part of the very nature of God. He is called the ‘Father of Mercies’ by Paul in 2Cor 1.3. Eph 2.4 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy.....” Wealth is a great thing enabling the rich man to execute power and influence. God’s mercy is like that. He has an abundance of mercy; He is rich in mercy. And it is that mercy that makes us alive together with Christ, Eph 2.5-6.

Mercy in the scripture is most often linked to the compassion of God. Whenever Jesus extended mercy to people it was usually because He was moved with compassion for them. Grace is always compared to works in the New Testament, Eph 2.8-9; Rom 11.6. But mercy is most often compared to judgement, James 2.13; so with grace we receive what we cannot earn and with mercy we get what we do not deserve – leniency. We also do not get what we do deserve – judgement.

Acts of service are to be done towards all, but especially towards those of the household of faith, Gal 6.10. But mercy is different. It is often extended to the undeserving, the hurting, the oppressed and distressed; those with acute needs who are powerless to help themselves. The classic example is the story of the certain Samaritan, (often wrongly labelled the Good Samaritan. When called good on one occasion Jesus challenged why He was given that label and said there is none good but God, Luke 18.18-19). He was the one who showed real love for his neighbour by extending mercy to him.

Samaritans were despised by the Jewish people. They were half breeds who had created their own centre of worship away from Jerusalem. A longstanding antipathy lay between these two people groups. Jesus is therefore intentional in His provocative details in this story. By highlighting the condescending attitude of the Levite and the Priest, God’s representatives, who passes by on the other side, He shows that mercy has no racial, religious or social barriers. The Samaritan got involved. Compassion motivated him to action and mercy was expressed; and it cost him something.

1. He delayed the purpose of his original journey to care for this ‘half dead’ man.
2. He took time to treat him, pouring in healing oil and wine as a disinfectant and then binding his wounds.
3. He placed him on the donkey and walked alongside, slowing him down considerably.
4. He took him to an Inn and stayed with him for the rest of the day caring and watching over him.
5. The following day he paid enough money for the injured man to be cared for, for at least a week, (Two denary was equivalent to two days wages)
6. He committed himself to picking up the tab for any additional cost related to this man’s needs.
7. He promised to return.

Lamentations 3.22-23 tells us that God’s mercies are ‘new every morning’. They are the reason why we are not consumed. Through them His faithfulness extends to weak people like you and me. Heb 2.14 tells us that Jesus took on the nature of humans. It allowed Him to do something as a man He couldn’t do as God; to suffer and die. His life was one of enduring temptation just as we do. Only with Jesus there was never a moment when He yielded to the power of sin; and sin is powerful.

Think of a man on a cliff edge with a rope tied around his waist. The rope is dangling over the edge of the cliff. 50Kg is added to the end of the rope. He begins to feel its pull but stands firm. Another 50Kg is added. The rope begins to bite into his waist but he takes up the tension and resists its pull. Another 50kg is added. Now he is in pain using all his strength to stand against the pull of this weight. Finally another 50 kg is added. He feels like he is about to give in. It all feels too much. And at that moment a friend comes by and cuts the rope. Relief! Overwhelming relief fills his soul. Temptation is like that. It has real pulling power. And those who understand its power best are not those who give in, but those who hold out to the end until deliverance comes.

1Cor 10.13 – God provides a way of escape for us as His people. He will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able. He knows when to cut the rope! And because Jesus has lived as a man, He understands. He really can sympathise. And He invites us to come to the throne of Grace and obtain mercy and grace; mercy for our failures and grace to empower us to live free, as He did, Heb 4.16.

In Matt 18.21 Jesus responds to Peter’s question about forgiveness. Essentially he is asking if it has a limit. How often do we go through the forgiveness cycle with others who fail us before we end up saying, ‘enough is enough’? Jesus answer is telling. It is outrageous, it is unreasonable, it is beyond what they are used to. Seventy times seven. Seven is God’s perfect number in the Bible. The world was made in seven days. This number permeates the book of Revelation, which is a revelation about Jesus and His purposes.

Seventy is the number of Jacob’s family when they went into Egypt. There they became a nation. It is also the number of disciples sent out on the second mission in Luke 10.1 It is thus representative of the nations, in seed form. Forgiveness is for everyone! It is universal.

In the story Jesus tells there are two debtors. The first owes a huge debt; the equivalent to about five billion pounds today. Notice that this man does not ask for mercy, he asks for time to pay. But the master knows that this is impossible and so freely forgives him the debt. Now this same man who owed the huge sum of money, in turn has a man in debt to him; but his debt is equivalent to about three months wages; nothing by comparison. When the sum is demanded the debtor also asks for time to pay. Not even this is given to him. This forgiven man, released from a debt of billions now takes a hold of his own debtor and treats him roughly. He does not extend the forgiveness he has received.

The final part of the story is chilling. The Master is informed and rebukes the man who showed no mercy throwing him into prison. Jesus said this is exactly what His Father would do to all those who refuse to forgive others their debts. What a sobering thought. God sees forgiveness as the ultimate act of mercy. Unforgiveness is rooted in arrogant pride.

When I am tempted to withhold mercy from others and struggle with forgiveness I take time with God. I ask Him to remind me of all that I have been forgiven by Him. And as I recall how huge a debt has been cancelled because of the greatness of His mercy I am then able to look at others who have offended me and I feel empowered to extend forgiveness to them. You see mercy is meant to flow out of what we have received from God. Like the story of Luke 7. 42-43, about two other debtors, the one who was forgiven the most was meant to love the most.

We need to remind ourselves that God always acts through His mercy, even when judgment comes. He mercifully spared Lot from being destroyed with Sodom. He left a remnant during the apostasy under Ahab. He did the same when Jerusalem was destroyed and allowed many to survive and be taken captive to Babylon. Despite years of unbelief and rejection to the preaching of Jeremiah those who lived in Jerusalem were spared. Not only that, when they believed the lies of false prophets who said the captivity would only be for a few years, he told Jeremiah to write them a letter to encourage them outlining what would really happen. In effect He told them to settle down, get married, plant vineyards and pray for the city. This is astonishing. Pray for the city Babylon? Pray for the place that was responsible for destroying the temple, the Holy City and many of their relatives? Pray for a godless nation and its leader?

Yes! Yes! Yes! That is exactly what God said. And if they were obedient they would find peace. It is in this context that the beautiful promise of Jer 29.11 is spoken; For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. God is dogmatic here. Under judgement they may have wondered, “Are we really the people of God? Does He really still love us? Do we have a future? We’ve lost everything what can we do now? And God tells them. Here is my paraphrase.

Don’t be in any doubt. Nothing that has happened to you is because I wish evil upon you. On the contrary I have nothing but thoughts of peace towards you. My ultimate goal is to bless and prosper you; to bring you to a point where when you seek me with all your heart, (and you will), I can fulfil the unique destiny I have planned for you. Every expectation of good, every secret dream and desire that you have I will give to you when your heart is finally aligned to mine.

This promise does not come to saints seeking His will and walking in His ways. It comes to a group of backslidden captives who have lost everything and still believe lies from false prophets. To them God speaks. To them God shows mercy. It is what I like to call His outrageous kindness, totally undeserved. Its only justification is God Himself. It is who He is. And Jeremiah says that without it we would all be consumed. Every day we awake we can be assured that His mercy is new. It has not run dry. It is not bankrupt. He is rich in mercy, Eph 2.4.

The challenge of course is to live being a merciful person. When we do, we reveal
more of the nature of God to the world than anything else could. For the Cross is God’s stake where mercy and truth have finally met, Psalm 85.10. Heaven’s kiss of reconciliation is demonstrated there. This is what we are called to embrace, for our own failings and those of others around us. For if the Lord remembered our failings, none of us could stand, Psalm 130.3.

One final point. Many times Jesus extended mercy in a way that led to awesome acts of power being demonstrated. The feeding of the 5,000 came from His compassion for the multitudes, Matt 14.13-14. The healing of blind BarTimeaus was a direct result of his call for mercy from the Son of David, Mark 10.46-52. Acts of mercy can operate in the realm of the natural and the supernatural. Whatever the manifestation, it is driven by the relentless mercy of God. Not only that, when we choose do acts of mercy to others we pave the way for mercy to come to us, Matt 5.7.

Needs, brokenness and hurting people abound. As the church lives up to its high call, mercy can abound even more, giving hope, life and a taste of the goodness of God to those in need. No wonder James tells us that mercy rejoices over judgment. For when mercy comes is releases praise and thanksgiving in those its hand is extended to. I pray your life is filled with the mercy of God and that you become a channel for extending it to others.