Mercy is not merely feeling sympathy. Mercy is extended by one who has the power to condemn or punish but chooses not to. We choose not to criticize, not to say, “I told you so,” not to exact our “pound of flesh” — not to avenge. As Jesus shows us in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery, mercy does not look back at what the person has done but forward to what the person can do in the future. – Mary Lou Redding. The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes
Christ have mercy on me,
I have failed to love as You Love
I have treated others as objects and obstacles
– less than human
– less than made in the image of God
I have elevated goals, persons, and things to the throne of my heart
I have procrastinated
I have wasted your precious gifts of time and talent and money
I am proud in unhealthy ways
I am apathetic
I have raised myself too high
Hid myself too low
Trusting in you and your promises
I call on your Mighty Name for mercy
I ask your forgiveness, Gracious Savior
I surrender to your healing, Great Physician
I claim your resurrection power, Risen One
You are already here
Calling me from the old to the new
Speaking my name
Welcoming me to table
Hallelujah! I will follow…
Based on Matthew 9:9-13, The Call of Matthew
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Extended Quote from Destination: Known, Readings for Holy Week in the Upper Room Disciplines (2012) by Thomas R. Steagald
Sometimes in our familiarity and haste, we bypass verses of scripture. Because we already know the story of who “betrayed” Jesus, our attention in this passage [John 13:21-32] jumps quickly ahead to the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, the piece of bread, and Judas’s leaving the meal to meet with the religious officials.
But what of verse 22: “The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking?” …
Could it be that each of the disciples is humble enough, uncertain enough, to know that given the right set of circumstances or stressors, any one of them has it within him to do what Judas would in fact do?…
For only those who love Jesus can betray him. His enemies might hate him; others might disregard or ignore him, but only those who sit at the table can get up and leave, and only those close enough to kiss him can give the kiss of death. That Judas is the one who guided the soldiers to Gethsemane on fresh-washed feet, his breath smelling of sacrament, is a particular instance of what is possible for all disciples.
It is unfortunate that we so quickly rush to blame Judas, so quickly leave him and this verse of scripture behind; for indeed, this Holy Week calls us to examine ourselves, to hear Jesus’ prediction, uncertain of whom else he might be speaking.
Forgive me, Lord, when I turn away from you and your purposes. Amen.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” … Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.
The Seat of Greatest Grace by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Jesus, my Friend,
my Beloved, my Person,
I love you, and I will falter.
I will deny you. I will betray you.
Three times, ten thousand times
I will deny you.
The silver pieces lie in my pocket
I have the nails
And you, knowing, invite me to your table,
to the place of honor even,
this seat of greatest grace,
to share your bread with me,
and lay down your body for me
I can hardly look into the sun
of such forgiveness,
love’s empty tomb
that defeats me,
I confess. I return.
Knowing, I follow,
drawn in your grace,
this burden that is light.
Then Peter began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Denial, by Steve Garnaas Holmes
I deny you, Christ,
when I deny my own divinity.
I deny you when I deny
the divinity of those I condemn.
I deny you when I do not hear you
in the oppressed and rejected.
I deny you when I turn
from my glorious giftedness.
I deny you when I am afraid
to stand with those at risk.
I deny you when in my guilt
I doubt your love.
And still, you love.
Let remembering’s bitterness awaken me.
Let my weeping be my wisdom.
To the frightening, to the infinite,
to the compassionate, to the holy,
help me say yes.
Let me die with yes on my lips.
I am grateful for the writing ministry of Steve Garnaas Holmes. His work inspires me, challenges me, and draws me close to God. Find more of his work at www.unfoldinglight.net and consider subscribing.
Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace Message 2 of 4: Recognizing a Heart of War
Scripture: James 3:13-18
These are the notes from a message offered 9/23/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
We can see behaviors- our words and actions. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Behaviors are born deep within us coming from a heart of peace or a heart of war.
As we read the scripture, look for the heart of peace and the heart of war.
James 3:13-18 The Voice 13 Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. 14 If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. 15 The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. 16 Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. 17 Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. 18 The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.
Pastor Lisa picks up a hand mirror and tells the story of growing up watching a children’s program called Romper Room. The teacher often used a mirror to say goodbye to the children and to encourage them to be “do bee’s,” those who do good.
Every time you see your reflection remember you are made in the image of God.
God’s intention for you is wholeness. Salvation means wholeness. Wholeness looks like
Vs 13. wisdom and gentleness
Vs 17. wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, good fruits
God’s intention for you is clarity- for you to clearly see your talents, your beauty, your value, your purpose, how beloved you are to God
Max Lucado quote If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!
God came in Jesus to reveal all these things about you and to prove God’s love. Jesus lived, healed, taught, imprisoned, tortured, crucified, died rose again so we could know that we know that we know this. So we could become this. When we know this and live out of this we have a heart of peace.
But the mirror is broken. Shattered by sin- our own choices, choices of others, circumstances of life, the brokenness of our world.
All we have is a shard. It’s hard to see with just this little bit of mirror. We forget who we look like, that we look like God. This is why we need Jesus.
Forgetting colors how we see situations and how we see others. It’s like looking through at the world through tinted lenses, or with blinders on like a horse. Or like we have an eye disease- only seeing the periphery or only seeing the middle.
This limited view boxes us into how we respond to situations and people.
I see the world as competitive, troubled
I’m better than most folks because I know what’s right and I do what’s right. The world needs me to be the example and to fix it.
I get impatient with all these incompetent fools who screw everything up
I see the world as hard, against me, ignoring me
I’m not as good as others. I’m broken, helpless.
If I’m truthful, I’m jealous and bitter towards those people with all the advantages
I Deserve box
I see the world as unfair, unjust. It owes me.
People constantly take advantage of me and don’t appreciate me
I resent those ungrateful people depriving me and mistreating me. I deserve better.
Must be seen box
I see the world watching me, judging me. I always wonder what people are thinking.
I feel anxious, stressed because I need to get it right. I need to be well thought of.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these boxes? Does it color how you view situations and people?
My friend, there is no shame. You have just forgotten who you are. Instead of holding on to the truth of who you really are you’re holding on to the mirror shard. You’re holding on to the wounds and brokenness and separation and sin
What happens if you hold on to the shard. You continue to wound yourself. And you wound others.
You’re living out of a heart of war. Here’s the good news. You can change. You can live out of a heart of peace.
Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV). The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9 Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus tells this parable to people who have a heart of war so they can receive a heart of peace. The first step is honesty, transparency, confessing our need and desire for a heart of peace to replace our heart of war.
If you desire a heart of peace, please join in this prayer.
Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. You can give us a heart of peace. Jesus, we bow in wonder at the expanse of your embrace, the breadth of your inclusion, the surprise of your grace. You seek and seek and seek, including those we write off as beyond hope, including me.
Jesus, You are the Great Physician coming to those in need of healing. You are the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world. You are the Prince of Peace granting me a heart of peace.
Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me for forgetting who you are. For forgetting who I am in you.
Forgive and heal my wounds. Forgive and heal my brokenness, my sin.
Forgive me for judging. Forgive my hurtful words and actions. Forgive my self-righteousness.
Forgive me Jesus for limiting you. I am so desperately in need of you.
Create in me a clean heart and renew your Holy Spirit within me.
Create in me a heart of peace. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The new is coming. The new has come. Amen.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.