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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Under the heading of religion, what, if anything, is wrong with requiring more of a believer than God requires? Today's message will answer this question in the context of our ongoing series, Mercy and not Sacrifice.

Just from a commonsense standpoint, it would seem rather presumptuous of someone to ask more of a believer than God would ask. I have heard others say that we serve a hard God, but if that is true and I ask more of a fellow-believer than He asks, what does that make me? Like I said, it just doesn't seem right that anyone should be more stringent than God in his/her…  ( Click for more )

Inasmuch as the correct attitude (mercy) is of more importance to God than the correct form of worship (sacrifice), one would expect a huge difference between the Old testament Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That change is borne out in many ways. This series will highlight some of the differences between the two covenants as they relate to mercy and sacrifice.

Form of worship includes many things such as location, posture, apparel, special formulas or words, and other such considerations. Note that form differs from attitude in that form can be mimicked by the worshipper…  ( Click for more )

Which is of more importance to God: 1) The correct form of worship, or 2) The correct attitude of the worshipper? This series of articles entitled Mercy and not Sacrifice sets forth the understanding that the latter, i.e. the correct attitude of the worshipper, is of far greater concern to God than the form. Our series will continue to focus on this principle since so many people are unfortunately bound up in the mechanics of worship rather than the unfettered praise of God that is offered to Him out of a heart overflowing with gratitude for His wonderful gifts.

In order to grasp…  ( Click for more )

Since there is a connection between my actions and God's mercy extended toward me, does this mean that I deserve (earn) God's mercy? This question can be stated another way that more formally captures a point of theological difference; here is the other way this question can be posed: If my receipt of God's spiritual blessings depends upon works (my actions), doesn't that make salvation “works based”? Our focus will be on this point today.

Let's check what we know. We know that God extends special mercies (spiritual blessings) to those who love Him (see yesterday's…  ( Click for more )

Is there a connection between my actions and God's extension of mercy to me? This question will be the focal point of today's message.

In order to find an answer to this question, it will be necessary to turn to the Bible. To rely upon mere human testimonies (uninspired witnesses) is to enter a world of contradictory claims which can yield no conclusive answer. Therefore, our response will be in terms of what the Bible says and not the claims of present day men.

The first hint that there might be a connection between the actions of men and the mercy that God extends toward…  ( Click for more )

I am a small time fan of mind puzzles. I have sort of one for you to consider as a basis of thought for some remaining articles under title of this article, Mercy and not Sacrifice. Actually the main thought comes from a discussion that I had with Pat, my best friend and wife. She and I come from two very different spiritual backgrounds. It is interesting and challenging to compare notes sometimes about our individual conclusions about God. There was a “fill in the blank question” that arose from one of our discussions and it is this question that we now pursue.

First,…  ( Click for more )

"Words never saved anybody!" At least that is what someone was heard to say. However is it true? Can words save? Consider that question as we look at today's devotional lesson.

Cornelius saw "…an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'" (Acts 11.13-14). In this case, words were instrumental in the salvation of Cornelius, but he was not saved by words alone.

Do you know what saves man from sin and brings…  ( Click for more )

We hear a lot about truth. Witnesses in legal proceedings are duty bound to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Under many circumstances, consumers are advised of certain facts under the truth in lending laws. Children are taught the value of truth and the honor that inheres with always telling the truth. Truth is a small word that packs a tremendous wallop when it comes to our lives, our country, our society, our economy, and most importantly to our spiritual welfare.

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are…  ( Click for more )

The father of the Prodigal Son ran to meet him when it appeared that he was coming home. His joy could not be contained! As he saw his son yet a great way off, he “...ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” His compassion was manifested in mercy that he was obviously all too glad to extend to his long lost son. The result was a great celebration at the fathers behest. “'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and…  ( Click for more )

The principle of mercy being preferred before sacrifice is an overarching principle that is intended to influence all that we think, do, or say. It is extremely sad that many of the folks who seem to pay the least homage to mercy are the same people who uphold the Bible and claim to be lovers of God. Mercy is akin to compassion, pity and love. It arises from the heart of God and has been manifested to His Creation every minute of every hour that the world has stood! God’s mercy is inexhaustible though there will come a time when the window of mercy closes for the human race…  ( Click for more )

Mercy is at the heart of the Kingdom of God. Take away the mercy which God placed there and the Kingdom becomes no better than any other organization or cause. When mercy departs the Kingdom, so does grace, forgiveness and longsuffering. In short, the Kingdom of god apart from mercy cannot be the Kingdom of God simply because mercy is inherent in God's character. The following account from the life of Christ illustrates the tremendous and irreplaceable role that mercy has in the kingdom of heaven.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against…  ( Click for more )

April 30, 2024

College and High School football is a huge reality this time of year. Sometimes people argue for months and even years about which team would have won had this happened, or had the other thing not happened. If you are in the typical office workplace, chances are better than even that you will hear some “Monday morning quarterbacking” going on before the morning is over. However, the score will remain just as it was when the final whistle blew regardless of the “self-proclaimed experts” who hash and rehash the game until they are blue in the face.

With…  ( Click for more )

“As I grew slightly older [than a toddler], I learned through osmosis (or some other scientific process - lol) that it was a sin for an able-bodied adult not to attend the worship assembly (i.e. go to church) on Sunday morning.” (quoted from yesterday’s Little Lift). In this same installment, I posed this question: “Who decides when the hindrance [from attending Sunday church] is providential and when it is otherwise?” As indicated yesterday, to be providentially hindered from church attendance amounted to an excused absence, but my boyhood questions…  ( Click for more )

I was reared in a home where “going to church” on Sunday morning was not a decision; it was a requirement, at least for the adults; kids went by default. We had no choice except 1) to stay home alone (not really an option), 2) to stay with a baby-sitter (absurd), or 3) to go where ever the adults went. So, we went to church. As I grew slightly older, I learned through osmosis (or some other scientific process - lol) that it was a sin for an able-bodied adult not to attend the worship assembly (i.e. go to church) on Sunday morning. I am quite sure that I never challenged…  ( Click for more )

"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2.11-12).

There are desires, and then there are desires! Paul, having been separated from the brethren at Thessalonica against his will, told them that he "… endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire." (Luke 22.15). Desire, even fervent…  ( Click for more )

"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'" (1 Peter 5.5). The submissive spirit that this passage anticipates is absolutely key to achieving Peter's objectives here, but more importantly, this spirit is essential to pleasing God. God gives grace to the humble but "resists" (or is set in opposition against - jb) the proud. Now note the figure of speech Peter chooses: "Be clothed with humility."…  ( Click for more )

God determined the principle: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” (Matthew 9.13). This principle is as true today in the Christian Dispensation as it was in the two previous dispensations, the Patriarchal and Mosaical. God’s passionate desire to win man’s heart has never abated since the first sin of our forefathers and will remain just as fervent until the last tick of the clock shall have been heard. God, our beneficent Father, wants all men to experience repentance (2 Peter 3.9), a genuine change of our heart’s allegiance that places God in the…  ( Click for more )

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."…  ( Click for more )

Once again we pause to set forth a too often forgotten biblical principle which transcends the ages. This principle is the genesis for the title of this entire series of devotional articles. Hosea penned the principle (Hosea 6.6) and Jesus found it expedient to restate it on at least two occasions (Matthew 9.13 and Matthew 12.7). Not only did He restate the principle, but He explicitly told some to “Go and learn what this means!” It was God who said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” and it is this principle upon which we as God-fearing believers are dependent. …  ( Click for more )

The following passage reveals Pharisaic attitudes gone to seed!

“Now a certain man was there [in Jerusalem] who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well,…  ( Click for more )

We begin by quoting Jesus as He quoted Hosea. “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9.13). We want to keep this passage foremost before our minds as we continue to search for its significance in our worship activities as believers and in our everyday lives.

To the Pharisees of Jesus' day, ceremonial uncleanness was equal to sin and was to be avoided at almost any cost. Perhaps this was the reason that in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the…  ( Click for more )

“O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51.15-17). This passage by David certainly has a connection to Hosea's statement that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. We will continue to explore the meaning of the term sacrifice in Hosea's statement, the same statement that Jesus cited on at least two occasions (Matthew 9.13 and…  ( Click for more )

When God said through Hosea that He desired mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6.6), what did He mean? Was He saying that sacrifice was against His will and hence, sinful? Or, is there a meaning that is consistent with the rest of the scriptures as to how God feels about sacrifice and mercy. Our task today will be to try to discover the meaning of this phrase from Hosea, a phrase that was later picked up by Jesus Christ and repeated at least two times (Matthew 9.13 and Matthew 12.7) during His ministry.

Perhaps a biblical account that predates Hosea by a couple of centuries will…  ( Click for more )

If we are to “...go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,'” (Matthew 9.13) then we are surely going to need to learn what the words mean that comprise the phrase. Today's message will take a cursory look at the word mercy in an effort to assist in learning what the passage meant to which Jesus referred.

The word mercy is not unique to either the New Testament or to the Old. It was used frequently in the Old Testament scriptures as well as in the teachings of Jesus. In addition, several people who met Jesus asked Him to show mercy toward them.…  ( Click for more )

The principle that Jesus stated was not new. From of old it had been true that God desired mercy and not sacrifice (see Hosea 6.6, Matthew 9.23, and Matthew 12.7). Jesus merely emphasized the principle and made application of it to those who would condemn Him for consorting with “ collectors and sinners.” Of course, the particular class of Jew who questioned His social conduct was the Pharisees, a self-righteous sect that seemed to delight in flaunting their spiritual superiority! Our message continues today as we extend our look at Jesus' words as quoted from…  ( Click for more )

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