Bible Readings and Devotion for April 29, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 29, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
There was an annoying “game” among boys in my school and peer group in elementary school. They called it, “Mercy.” They would harass, tackle, poke, tickle, slap, and pin down another boy. The attackers would say to the hurting youth, “Say ‘mercy.’” They would continue the unpleasantness until the boy begged for mercy. Then, because he said, “mercy,” they would make fun of the boy for having to beg for mercy. That was a miserable, sinful action by the youth.
In scripture there is a teaching approach which can be summed up as, “From the lesser to the greater.” This means that the teacher notes a lesser thing, and then shows how God does a much greater thing for our benefit. The bullying behavior of seven-year-olds is about mercy of sorts. God’s mercy is so much better. It is something which brings life and hope and relief to a suffering humanity.
Before getting into our reading today about mercy, let’s look at an example of, “from the lesser to the greater,” in the New Testament.
When teaching about prayer in Luke chapter 11, our Lord Jesus notes, “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
In this, the sinful parent does a decent job of making sure one’s child gets a safe and appropriate meal when asked for by the child. How much more will God give us what we need for faith and life when we ask for it. This points to the greatest gift of God being the Holy Spirit.
So, when teaching about mercy, we can use the “lesser to the greater” principle. The harassing boys showed a mercy of sorts to the peer they were pushing around. This is where we see something which points to mercy in our reading from Psalm 143. Here is what is noted in Psalm 143:2: “Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.” The psalm writer is praying for God’s continued mercy. The powerful thing here is that people who are alive are recipients of God’s abundant mercy already. They are receiving it even without begging for it. God is not pushing and slapping us into begging for mercy. Rather, he is offering it to us right now.
In the Old Testament we have this strong statement of the Lord in Hosea 6:6, which reads, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Other translations note it as, “For I desire mercy…” What the Lord wants for us in mercy. This is show in various ways in the New Testament. One is in Peter’s writings.
The Apostle Peter notes, “8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” God’s mercy is shown over and over again for humanity as he shows patience for us. The patience is offered to help us get back on track with the Lord.
The mercy of God is already present for us. In this psalm, we are reminded to be aware of this steadfast mercy and love for us. The faithful response is filled with repentance, thanksgiving, and service to God and others.
Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and extend to us your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy, bring us to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.