Thursday, May 28, 2009

O, the manifold love of God!


The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. (Psalm 111:4)

What does it mean to be gracious? and what is compassion?

Psa 86:5 For You, Lord, [are] good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
Psa 86:15 But You, O Lord, [are] a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Psa 103:8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
Exd 34:6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
Exd 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
Isa 63:7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD [And] the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
Mic 7:18 Who [is] a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights [in] mercy.
Mic 7:19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our* sins Into the depths of the sea.
Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
Rom 5:21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Eph 1:8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
Psa 78:38 But He, [being] full of compassion, forgave [their] iniquity, And did not destroy [them]. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath;
Psa 112:4 Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; [He is] gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
Psa 145:8 The LORD [is] gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.

1. The Lord is good, and He only does that which is good. We can be unshakably confident in the goodness of God. Any and every situation that comes our way is from the hands of a good God.

2. The Lord is ready to forgive. When we humble ourselves and confess our wrongdoing as sin; when we recognise that our behaviour, attitude, intention, words or way of life is contrary to God's Holy Law; the God is ready, waiting and desirous to forgive us. His forgiveness is not cheap. He does not have to forgive, but He has chosen to forgive on the basis of the Atonement secured for us through His Son, when Jesus paid the penalty for our sin upon the Cross of Calvary.

3. The Lord is abundant in mercy. To such as have been forgiven, the Lord will not treat them as they deserve. Every sinner deserves to be placed in the deepest recesses of Hell and submitted to interminable punishment, torment, and suffering. However, the mercy of God does not treat us in this way. The important point, however, is that there needs to be forgiveness first. Mercy will not be extended to those who are unrepentant. Mercy will not be extended to those who love their sin, and will not turn away from it when confronted with their error. The abundance of mercy is to toward those who agree with the assessment of God's Law, and call evil, "Evil;" and call wickedness, "wicked;" and call sin, "exceeding sinful." It is to these that the Lord extends His great mercy.

4. The Lord is full of compassion. Because Jesus has lived as we have, as a man subject to all the limitations of our humanity, He fully understands temptation and human weakness. Jesus never succumbed to the temptations that He was subjected to, so He is not interested in excuses. However, His compassion understands that we will fall. His compassion reaches out to us in our fallenness, and He offers His gentle hand to lift us up out of such a condition. He extends to us the gift of repentance; He extends to us the gift of His Holy Spirit; He extends to us the offer of restoration, if we will put our trust in Him.

5. The Lord is gracious. In the first instance, the Lord will come to us with gentleness, kindness, extending to us offers of healing, restoration, forgiveness, reward for obedience, promise of blessing, and such like. To the humble, broken and contrite, the Lord will reveal Himself to be gracious; full of grace; full of undeserved favour and goodness and beneficence. However, to the stubbornly proud, self-confident and self-righteous, the Lord reveals Himself in other ways.

6. The Lord is longsuffering. Very rarely does the Lord deal with our waywardness within the instant. The Lord's compassion and mercy longs for us to return to Him in brokenness and humility, confessing our sins as sin, and embracing His forgiveness and restoration. The Lord will wait patiently, sometimes for generations, looking for the evidences of genuine sorrow for our lawlessness. However, His longsuffering is not endless, and must not be mistaken for inability and weakness. He will persevere with such as take, even unstable and shaky steps towards Him. But to those who love their sin more than they love God will one day know the end of God's longsuffering.

7. The Lord is abundant in truth. Jesus is the truth. Outside of Jesus, all is a lie. There are no such things as abstract facts. All facts are interpreted facts. All facts, to be true, must be interpreted in the light of Jesus' Person, Character, Words and Acts. Jesus is true in every situation. Jesus speaks truly to every circumstance. Jesus' assessment of every intention, word and act is true. Jesus is true Truth; He is abundant in truth.

8. The Lord is slow to anger. This does not mean that the Lord will not get angry. He does get angry. His anger, when stirred, is full of fury, vengeance, is indignant and can wipe the wicked from the face of the earth: through fire, wind, flood, earthquake, famine, war, plague, pandemic, and so forth. However, His anger lies dormant for years, decades, sometimes centuries, whilst He extends His grace, mercy and kindness. If the Lord can win us, without stirring His anger, so He will do so. He loves mercy more than wrath. However, if our hardness of heart is such that we repeatedly resist the gentle kindness of the Lord, then eventually His anger will be aroused. In such times we need to remind the Lord of His mercy: "In Your anger, O Lord, remember mercy."

9. The Lord is full of lovingkindness. The Lord does kind and loving acts for us. At unexpected moments, the Lord will extend to us creature comforts, opportunities, words of encouragement, help us, provide for us, and so forth. These are simply expressions of the Lord's affection for us, and are given willingly, lovingly, kindly, gently, and most times unexpectedly. They are extended to us, not because they are deserved, but as a gratuitous gift as an expression of the Lord's great love for those Whom He has chosen to be His own.

As we meditate upon these attributes of the Lord, may we turn to Him in whole-hearted, and unreserved love for Him who first loved us.

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