What We Deserve
A mother approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and that justice demanded death.
“But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.”
“But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon retorted. “Sir,” she cried, “It would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.”
After considering her words, the emperor replied, “Well, then, I will have mercy.” The son’s life was spared (Luis Palau, Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984).
This provides a clear example of a concept we often misunderstand—mercy. Mercy spares us from the punishment we deserve. On a spiritual level, there was a time when we were all in the son’s shoes. We had lived a life of sin, fallen short of God’s glory, and committed offenses that deserved death. Death is the “wages” we earned from poor decisions (Romans 6:23).
Thankfully, God has not given us the punishment we deserved (Acts 2:36-38). God has mercy on us. As we see in Titus 3:5-6, He saved us “not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
What an incredible blessing to receive mercy when we deserve death. Let’s be dedicated and diligent to live a life close to the Lord. We owe Him our very lives. —Brett Petrillo
“Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Communion with the Lord
God gave us a way to remember regularly (“the first day of the week”) and methodically (“they continued . . . in the breaking of bread”) the gracious, glorious and great death of Christ; He gave us the Lord’s Supper. It’s what Paul focuses on in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
A Gracious Dedication (1 Corinthians 11:25)—“This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” In partaking of the contents of the cup (i.e., fruit of the vine), we are called to remember the blood of Jesus and the new covenant (cf. Hebrews 8:6-18).
A Glorious Proclamation (1 Corinthians 11:26)—“You proclaim the Lord’s death.” The word “proclaim” is the word “preach” in other passages. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim (i.e., preach) a powerful sermon to the world of our faith and dedication of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23; 4:17; Acts 20:7).
A Great Anticipation (1 Corinthians 11:26)—“You proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we look back to the cross of Jesus and what He did for us, but we also look ahead to the day He will return (cf. John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Thank God we can remember Christ in the Lord’s Supper. —Mark Posey
Don’t tell people your plans. Show them your results.
Take the risk or lose the chance.
How to Make Others Friendlier
I am exasperated at how unfriendly the people at church are. They never speak to me. When they do speak, I feel as though I am simply being tolerated. I do not feel a part of their “crowd.” It is so unfair! But I have the answers for me and any other poor soul who has encountered such unfriendliness.
I am going to make everyone converse with me. I’ll strike up conversations with every-one at church, including those I hardly even know. To make it better, I am going to find out what interests them, so I’ll have plenty to say and hear with them. I’m not going to give them the chance not to speak to me. I will eagerly listen to what they say, and they will think they’ve never met someone so sincerely interested. That’ll fix them!
I am going to wear a big smile. I am going to develop a personality so magnetic that no one can resist getting to know me better. My grin will be an open invitation to visitors and members alike. I bet they’ll all wonder what’s gotten into me, that I’m so happy. They’ll be eager to be a part of what makes me so cheerful!
I am going to do unsolicited acts of kindness. I’ll send them notes of cheer, cards of sympathy, and letters of encouragement. I’ll visit their sick family members and neighbors. They won’t know what hit them. I’ll pray for those folks down at church, by name, every night!
I am going to stay around longer after the last amen. I’ll hang around the audito-rium, get to the foyer early enough to catch the early departures, talk to the elderly, the small children, and even the visitors. I bet they’ll mistake me for a deacon or an usher.
I am going to study every passage on friendliness and kindness I can find. I’ll memorize, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). I’ll quote, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). I will model Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsurffering.” I’ll carry a plaque with me that reads, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). I will memorize the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and the Christian graces (2 Peter 1:5-7). I can’t kill them with kindness unless I’ve got my gun loaded!
Whew! Now I’m ready. Those unfriendly folks at church don’t stand a chance. I’ll melt every cold stare. I’ll dodge every harsh word. I’ll deflect every criticism with the shield of warmth.
I’ll be so friendly . . . hmmmmm . . . maybe that was the biggest part of the problem anyway. If I were more friendly . . . —Neal Pollard