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  • Pastor Jill

Worship August 16, 2020: Mercy Me

Introduction to the Day:

“Mercy is not getting what you deserve; Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”

Prayer of Day:

Gracious God, you welcome all who cry out to you, & no one is beyond the reach of your mercy. Strengthen us to be living signs of your healing & mercy so that all may know your glory & grace; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

1Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed.”

6And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant — 7these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 8The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

Psalm 67

1May God be merciful to | us and bless us,*

show us the light of his countenance and | come to us.

2Let your ways be known | upon earth,*

your saving health a- | mong all nations.

3Let the peoples praise | you, O God;*

let all the | peoples praise you.

4Let the nations be glad and | sing for joy,*

for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations | upon earth.

5Let the peoples praise | you, O God;*

let all the | peoples praise you.

6The earth has brought | forth her increase;*

may God, our own God, give | us his blessing.

7May God give | us his blessing,*

and may all the ends of the earth stand in | awe of him.

Second Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32

1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2aGod has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. …

13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

28As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

21Jesus went away from {Gennesaret} and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Sermon - Mercy Me - Pastor Jill

I noticed the word mercy several times in our scripture texts today.

When preparing this sermon, I recalled vividly the time our dear friends experienced mercy. Their 16 year old son had just died by suicide. As our pastor & I held the mother in a room so the funeral directors could remove the body from his upstairs bedroom….she was crying out—wanting to break free to run to her son—obviously in shock—and at that time, not being able to believe he was actually gone. Then she looked up at our pastor & asked “Will he go to hell because he took his own life?” Uffta, what a statement. The pastor said, “I don’t believe so—because God is rich in mercy--& He above all, understands why Shawn did this. We don’t, but God does.”

Needing some answers myself, I ran across a teaching by Dr. Charles Stanley:

Is suicide the unpardonable sin, or does God forgive suicide? These questions have troubled the hearts of those who struggle with the temptation to end their lives and those who are left behind when a friend or family member chooses to take his or her life.

Although the word suicide is never used in the Bible, there are several direct references to people killing themselves, and by definition, that is suicide. Zimri, Abimelech, died this way, & Saul fell on his sword after losing a battle against the Philistines. When his armorbearer saw that Saul had killed himself, he followed in like manner. When he stopped allowing God to direct his life, Samson lost his unbelievable strength and suffered humiliation at the hands of the Philistines. Unable to tolerate the ridicule and his failure, in one final act of strength, Samson pulled the pillars down on himself and thousands of his captors. And then Judas in the NT, hung himself, after betraying Jesus.

Why did these people end their lives? It could be the inability to cope with failure or deal with relationships or the perceived loss of position or status. The unbearable pain of humiliation and a meaningless life. These were some of the reasons given for those who committed suicide during biblical times.

A closer examination of the alarming number of suicides today reveals five motivating factors: (1) a cause that a person is committed to; (2) a pact between two or more people; (3) feelings of meaninglessness; (4) circumstances that overwhelm an individual; and (5) an extended illness involving intractable or unrelenting pain. A major cause of suicide is the despair of living without meaning or purpose. In a world overwhelmed with violence, divorce, homelessness, AIDS, and drug abuse. It has become the norm to live life bouncing around without anything to hang on to that would give meaning and security to an otherwise lonely existence.

In his book Fatal Choice, John Q. Baucom states that "Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 adolescents will take their lives annually . . . During the past 25 years the teenage rate has tripled. One report indicates that nearly 12 percent of all school children will experience serious suicidal ideation at least once."

The fact that many children are finding suicide to be the logical choice underscores the impact that the pressures of life, even at such an early age, can have. They live in a world of isolation, rejection, and the perception that no one cares. Life becomes intolerable, and suicide becomes the "logical" answer. Depression is a key factor in most suicides.

Circumstances can often be the precipitating factor in suicide. What one person can deal with, another might find overwhelming. This can encompass any number of things, such as divorce, the loss of a job, or financial distress.

Yet, we need to consider the reasons why suicide is wrong and why it is not the way to avoid painful circumstances. As an act of rebellion, suicide is a sin against God. These are some of the reasons why suicide is wrong:

  • It violates the Ten Commandments.

  • Nowhere does the Bible condone a person ending life to escape circumstances.

  • Life is a gift from God.

  • Suicide usurps the power that belongs only to God.

  • A person who commits suicide short-circuits God's will for his or her life.

With this in mind, we can understand why there are so many questions concerning whether God forgives the person who commits suicide. After all, suicide is an act of rebellion against God. Fortunately for all of us, however, God's grace is without prejudice. Whoever believes will be saved. Nowhere in the Bible does God compartmentalize sin and reserve grace only for those who commit "acceptable" sins. There is no such thing. Does God forgive suicide? Yes, He does. If the person who committed suicide at some time accepted Jesus' death on the cross as payment for his sin debt and asked Him into his life, he is forgiven. Absolute assurance of forgiveness is found in Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." If a person has ever taken that step and received Christ as Savior, nothing can alter the truth that, as children of God, we are forgiven. Even when we rebel against God, He is faithful to keep His Word. On the other hand, there is no such assurance for the one who commits suicide and has never taken that step of faith in Christ, except the assurance of eternal separation from God. The fact that God's grace is sufficient and that forgiveness is available even in the case of suicide should never be taken as permission to follow through with the temptation to do it. Suicide is never the right decision.

So, If you have struggled with the meaning of life or are experiencing overwhelming pain (physical or mental) and are considering taking your life, I urge you to take these steps to get the help you need in your time of trouble. Cry out to God. Receive His Help.

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken" (Psalm 34:17-20).

And this pastor’s words to you today: Let mercy rewrite your life. Amen


For years I traveled a road all wrong

My heart had lost every joy, oh every song

Then grace placed me right where I belong

Mercy rewrote my life

Mercy rewrote my life

Mercy rewrote my life

I could have fallen my soul cast down

But mercy rewrote my life

My mistakes would turned into miracles

Every tears was turned into joy

My sins, forgiven, a new name oh was written

When mercy rewrote my life

Mercy rewrote my life

Mercy rewrote my life

I could have fallen my soul cast down

But mercy rewrote my life

I could have fallen my soul cast down

But mercy rewrote my life

Jimmy Swaggert; Swaggert CCL#11430998


Go In Peace, Serve the Lord

Thanks be to God!

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