Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kyrie Eleison, Lord Have Mercy


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. - Psalm 51:1

Deserving Mercy?

So many times in life we feel deserving of right treatment, we feel like we deserve always good things. We look at others and think of them as worse then us and try and justify ourselves. Those who always judge others are not recipents of mercy or have at least forgotten the great mercy shown to them.  We consider God a just God, and in many ways He is, but if He were truly just without mercy we would all be sent to hell. God chooses to remember us when we should be forgotten and left to our own devices.

Asking for God's mercy is something the prophets and believers of the Old Testament cried out for.  In the New Testament we see this same cry, notably three times in the Gospels. The Canaanite woman cries out "Lord have mercy on me" (Matthew 15:22). The two blind men cry out to Jesus, "Lord have mercy on us" (Matthew 20:30-31). Lastly, Blind Bartimaeus cries out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me" (Mark 10:46).  These individuals saw the reality of humanity that it is in need of God's mercy.  Jesus clearly gave these people mercy, something they did not deserve.

The Foundation of Christianity

This has always been the foundation of the belief of Christianity that we are not deserving and need God's mercy. Whether or not we have experienced God's forgiveness we need God's mercy still. We stand by God's mercy.  All Christian life needs to be lived out "in view of God's mercy" (Romans 12:1).

Church tradition carried on the reminder of the need of mercy through the phrase, "Lord have mercy." This phrase in the greek Bible is: "Kyrie Eleison."

Many liturgies in the early Church and protestant denominations have kept this phrase in a hymn or said three times during communion or a service. It reminds us that we constantly need God's mercy and it newly petitions God for this undeserving mercy in our lives.

Praying for God's Mercy

One of my mentors used to tell me that all he can pray for is God's mercy these days. I scratched my head and wondered why?  But now years later I understand that the more we understand and know God, the more we realize we do not deserve forgiveness and need His constant mercy.

John Chrysostom says, "Even if we reach the summit of virtue, we are saved only by God's mercy," 

We cannot pray for mercy to God without being willing to extend mercy freely to others. When we pray for mercy we are also praying for God to make us merciful to others.  It is a very ancient thing to do but something very acceptable by God to pray, Lord have mercy on me a sinner. And with humility we can also pray Marantha, come Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Unto Him that Loved us, To Him that Washed us from our Sins

The Roman Coliseum was one of the main centers for entertainment and, on this day, it was not gladiators or sports competitions, but a different type of crown was being competed for. Rows upon rows of circular seating, with humanity throbbing inside. Fifty thousand faces fixed their attention on the scene below. The noise at times was deafening with cheers of the crowd, anticipating what was to come. To whet the appetites of the onlooking romans, gladiators were sent out to fight. Then wild animals who were starved were released, and a skillful gladiator would kill each one. But all of this is just to prepare the crowd for the main event and attraction. It was the Christians that were competing today for a heavenly crown following the way of Christ in the noble way of martyrdom.

What happens next, The Martyr of the Catacombs, details the sad scene well for us:

“An old man entered upon the scene. His form was bowed, and his hair silver white with extreme old age. His appearance was hailed with shouts of derision, although his majestic face and dignified manner were only calculated to excite admiration. As the shouts of laughter and yells of derision came down to his ears he raised his head and uttered a few words.
“A loud outburst of yells and execrations from the fierce mob drowned his voice. Before it was over three panthers came bounding toward him. He folded his arms, and looking up to heaven, his lips moved as if murmuring prayers. The savage beasts fell upon him as he stood, and in a few minutes he was torn in pieces. “Other wild animals were now let in. Into the midst of this a helpless band of prisoners were rudely thrust. They were chiefly young girls, who were thus sacrificed to the bloodthirsty passions of the savage Roman mob. The sight would have moved to pity any heart in which all soft feelings had not been blighted. But pity had no place in Rome.
Cowering and fearful, the poor young maidens showed the weakness of human nature when just confronted with death in so terrible a form, but after a few moments faith resumed its power, and raised them above all fear. As the beasts became aware of the presence of their prey and began to draw near, these young maidens joined hands, and raising their eyes to heaven, sang out a solemn chant which rose clear and wondrously sweet upward to heaven: “Unto Him that loved us, To Him that washed us from our sins. In his own blood; To Him that made us kings and priests, To God and the Father; To Him be glory and dominion Forever and ever. Hallelujah. Amen!”
“One by one the voices were hushed in blood, and agony, and death; one by one the shrieks of anguish were mingled with the shouts of praise; and these fair young spirits, so heroic under suffering and faithful unto death, had carried their song to join it with the psalm of the redeemed on high.”


This is an excerpt from the free Christian ebook, The Following of Christ by Greg Gordon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Publican and Pharisee, A Lesson in Pride and Humility

Pharisee and Publican
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. - Proverbs 11:2

Pride and the Devil

When we speak of pride we also often times think of the devil. He was the beautiful angel who through transgression and pride fell from his place with God to a fallen state. Lucifer, an anointed cherub of God became the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44). He was soiled and became filthy and the enemy wants to defile all those who are unsoiled also. When we are free from pride the enemy of our souls desires to sow prideful thoughts into our life. Pride is a preoccupation with self, it is to say that I am more important then all others. Pride says "I" am always right. Pride is when at all costs we need to revenge ourselves of our abusers. Pride says that we are more important then others and when sinned against our rights are more important. Personal glory and importance leads to a proud heart and opposition to God (1 Peter 5:5).

Pride and Selflessness

Pride is in some ways the opposite of selflessness. When we are humble we seek the good of others even when we have been hurt by someone. Disgrace and shame comes with pride because God diminishes the proud one under his own displeasure. Just like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, we can be blinded by Pride and a sense of self-importance thinking we are able to control situations and even people.

Ephraim of Philotheou says, "The mercy of God supports all of us, but if we are proud, God will lift off His grace and we will become worse than the others."

This is a profound thought that God himself shows everyone grace, mercy, and gives constant help. And when we see others in the body of Christ fail, or cause abuse, if we become proud, judge them overly and do not do it all in love, we can have God's grace lifted from our lives. And the sad result can be the brother who fails, when we judge him we can become worse then that brother. When we have pride against others in the body of Christ we have insulted the Creator Himself. We should never look down on others, never think we are better especially when we see another of our brothers and sisters fail.

The Publican and Pharisee

In Luke 18:9-14, we see the famous story of the Publican and Pharisee. It is a great contrast between pride and humility, self-assuredness and humility.  The first error of the religious leader Jesus pointed out was of being "confident."  It was a self-reliant attitude that I am in a better place with God then most and therefore can speak down to others and also not need God's grace as much. It is a subtle deception on the road towards knowing God we can start to trust on our past experiences of grace and not rely on the grace of God daily. And what happened? The religious leader, "looked down on everyone else" (Luke 18:9).  He did not take the humble role of a being below others as a servant but rather assumed priority over others.  

In such a contrast we see the Publican come to our Lord and simply say in humility, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (Luke 18:13).  This one humbled himself before God, no matter how holy or progressed in our Christian lives when we humble ourselves we keep our position of walking with God in His presence. But once we exalt ourselves then we are cast away.

In a famous drawing of this scene, we see the Publican bowing and humble, and the Pharise exalted and with one hand judging the other and the other praising God. Then in the picture we notice the hand of God blessing with grace and mercy the Publican only.   Let this be a reminder that when we judge others we cannot praise God with the same breath and miss God's blessing in the process.

Serving Others In the Body

When we have pride in our own accomplishments and skills we are taking the credit for these things to ourselves. The reality is all giftings given to brethren in the body of Christ is to serve and help others, not ourselves. To follow the way of pride is to follow the way of the devil. The follow the way of humility is to follow in the way of the Lord.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not Repenting After Corrections From Spiritual Leaders

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. - 2 Corinthians 12:21

There are many tests for the humility of our walk with Christ. One of them is how we react to correction and namely correction by spiritual leaders in the body of Christ. It is never easy to consider we have been wrong in an area of our life and our decisions have caused hurt towards others. Paul the Apostle was encouraging the Corinthian believers to repent fully of their past behaviours, he was full of grace towards them that they could change. But sadly in the 2nd letter he wrote to them at the end he started to doubt whether they had changed. He wrote, I fear there would be "discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder" (2 Corinthians 12:20) still among you! An arrogant attitude says I am never wrong, it says people need to listen to me. Arrogant, proud, haughty men were in the Corinthian church who were not even listening to leaders in their gatherings and were rejecting the Apostle Paul himself. You could possibly hear one of them saying, "I have no authority over me, I only submit to Christ!" It sounds spiritual but in the end such an attitude is of a decieved individual who is found apart from Christ in his pride.

The Corinthians were submitting to what Paul called, "super apostles" (2 Corinthians 12:11). These men where ear-tickling preachers that told the people what they wanted to hear. One thing they did not speak about was sexual sins or against disorder and discord in the body. All they probably wanted was the peoples money and esteem. Paul highlights at the end of his letter that "many" have "not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged." No wonder they were not correcting a young man who was in incest (1 Corinthians 5). What shocked me is when I read the word "many"! The Corinthian Church was compromised and were neglecting the cure to their ills which was godly leadership and true spiritual elders guiding them. They were blind leading the blind into lives of sin and selfishness. The end was many who were slandering each other, name-calling, talking behind backs and ultimately division in the body of Christ, something that grieves the heart of God. Paul labored with them and sought to visit them again to spend time with these children of God and tend them like a Shepherd. This comes close to home for us, are we willing to submit to correction by spiritual leaders in the areas of our lives that are amiss. Or do we seek to always justify ourselves and not accept even the godliest of men who counsel against our decisions. Our way of repentance is to humble ourselves under such correction and allow Christ to start to be formed in us again.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Satanic Counterfeits Amongst the Church


He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. - John 8:44

We have to remember that Satan is the father of lies. He is a murderer from the beginning and dwells in falsehood. He never wants the glory to go to Jesus Christ but rather twists the truth and deceives those in the Lord’s work to take glory to themselves. Satan is also the master counterfeiter who has been deceiving God’s people since the beginning. He spoke to Eve and deceived her by twisting the truth of God saying, “Has God indeed said?” Such twisting of the truth is his normal activity. Since the earliest days of the apostles, even with our Lord himself, there were deceivers and false brethren present: those who secretly come into God’s flock for personal gain and to infiltrate the liberty of the believers, betrayers, deceivers, false brethren, false prophets, and those desiring preeminence among the saints (3 John 1:9). Diotrephes and one's like him did not seek honour in the church as much as sought his own truth, his own way and seperated himself from the doctrines of the Apostles and all the other Churches. He was stubborn to think he was right and all others were wrong. A false teacher is always who is in admidst but then seeks to draw people "out of" towards themselves. Just like satan, these false teachers do not have, "the truth in them."

One key to understand the working of God versus Satan in a meeting of believers is the emphasis put on the Son of God. Those that worship, honor, and glorify the Holy Spirit more than Jesus Christ are not led by the Holy Spirit to do that. The Holy Spirit will always honor Jesus Christ; thus the true working of the Spirit can be distinguished in measure. The Scripture states: “He shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13). All early Church creed statements always elevate the work of the cross and the incarnation of the Son of God. In the end times, there will be an influx of those in the Church teaching doctrines of demons to deceive even the elect of God. There will be many false teachers who claim to be of the truth but are not. The most dangerous weapon against the Church is not persecution, but deception. One key feature of these deceptions is that there is something new offered, when rather we should be seeking to believe the truth that is old and that which the Church has held to from the beginning.