The Riches of His Mercy

December 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Devotional thoughts, False teaching, Theology | Leave a comment

As a pastor-appreciation gift, Cathy and I were given a night at the Bear’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Evergreen.  We took advantage of that during the holiday weekend while Amber was with her cousins in Greeley.  We had a wonderful 2 days to slow down, to connect with God and to connect with each other.  The inn was a delightful place to stay, and, with very few people staying, we had the couch and chairs in front of the fireplace almost entirely to ourselves for reading and reflecting.  I read a great chapter in John Piper’s book, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.  I started this book quite a while ago, but it is such a great devotional book to ponder, I have saved reading chapters in it for weekends and days off when I can ponder more.  This weekend I read the chapter titled, “The Incarnate Wealth of the Compassionate God.”  The main argument of the chapter goes like this: God is the wealthiest being in the universe, because he created and owns everything, but “strikingly, the New Testament describes the wealth of God not mainly in terms of what he created and owns, but mainly in terms of the glory he has from all eternity.”  That wealth is often described in terms of God’s mercy, and Jesus is the incarnate display of the riches of God’s mercy.  “All the Father’s mercies belong to those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ.”  Then there is this striking conclusion: “The place where mercies are kept is at the throne of God.  Here is infinite wealth and infinite power and infinite wisdom.  And all this stands ready in the service of mercy, because of Jesus Christ, the mercy of God incarnate.”

            I had three thoughts related to this chapter.  One was the scripture I’d read the same morning, Psalm 65.  This chapter has a very similar idea in the early verses.  “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.  Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!  We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.”  All the riches of God are available to those he chooses, all the good things of his house and temple.  Of course, one of the best things from God’s riches is his mercy to offer us the forgiveness of our transgressions!

            The second thought I had was related to today’s prosperity preachers.  They teach that God’s wealth is available to his people, but they define that wealth in worldly terms rather than in godly ways.  The wealth they present is, in comparison with God’s mercy, absolute poverty.  First, it’s not the real thing, and second, it’s only temporary.  Yet God’s real wealth is so much more valuable than anything they or this world have to offer, and it lasts forever.  It’s as though they teach their followers to collect the plastic trinkets in the corner of God’s house when the most valuable of jewels are just across the room.

            The third thought is that the discussion in the paragraph above doesn’t speak just to prosperity preachers, but to all people.  All of us seek treasure in things that are not God’s true riches.  We are guilty of the same sins as the Israelites in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have committed two sins:  They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”   Even with the best of riches and life –the living water – available in God, we seek riches and life in everything else – things that are stagnant in comparison.  God, grant that we may find our true riches in the riches of your mercy.

 

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