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Healing Misery with Mercy - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
December 25, 2022 5:00 am

Healing Misery with Mercy - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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December 25, 2022 5:00 am

One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!

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If you were to go and count up the number of times mercy appears in your Bible, it'd be close to 300. That shows me that it's a priority. Something that appears that many times, that kind of quality, is a priority.

Certainly, it is a characteristic of God. Merry Christmas one and all, and welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. I saw this comic strip recently where a man who had been pulled over by the police was telling the officer, I have photos of several confirmed speeders in case you would like to take some time to go after regular offenders. Well, we all feel that way sometimes, don't we?

We get busted and we can't help but point out all the others who are getting away with it. We want mercy for ourselves and justice for everyone else. Well, today here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, Skip Heitzig takes a closer look at what mercy really is and why it's something we shouldn't be keeping to ourselves. We'll begin our study here in just a moment, but first, here's a resource we hope you'll find helpful from Pastor Skip and friends. Skip often has the privilege of hosting guest speakers, guests like Franklin Graham and Lee Strobel, who've become great friends to Pastor Skip Heitzig in this Bible teaching ministry.

Here's another, our friend Levi Lusko. What's life with Jesus like? It's life, not without storms, but going through storms with an anchor, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil. An anchor for the soul.

What a wonderful thing. Skip and Friends is a CD or digital package of messages from five friends, plus five special teachings by Skip. It is yours as our thank you gift for your gift of $50 or more to help connect others to the hope and truth found only in God's word.

With your gift of $50 or more, we'll send you the Skip and Friends collection of 10 messages on CD or give you digital access. For example, here's our friend Eric Metaxas. The evidence for God is astonishing. The evidence from science has piled up so dramatically that I'm here to tell you it's absolutely no contest.

Science points to the existence of God utterly dramatically in a way that it is as open and shut as any open and shut question ever could be, and we're talking about science. Get your copy of Skip and Friends when you give online securely at slash offer or call 800-922-1888. We'll begin today in John chapter five. So turn there in your Bibles and let's join Skip Heitzig as he gets us started with a few thoughts on just how tough mercy is to share with others.

There's a magnificent gift that is wonderful to receive. It's a little harder to dispense, and that is mercy. I heard about a poster that was posted on a tree by a convent, and the poster read, no trespassing.

Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The funny thing about the poster is that it was signed the sisters of the sisters of mercy. Mercy is not a natural human trait.

We typically, at least in the West, we admire strength and courage, and we sometimes have problems with those who require our help. I'll never forget growing up, my dad said this a lot in my home. He'd always quote, God helps those who help themselves.

He said it so frequently that it's ingrained in my mind, but when my dad said it, what was even funnier is he used to say this, you know son, the Bible says God helps those who help themselves. Now there weren't like a lot of Bibles in my home, so that was odd to me, but I grew up thinking the Bible says God helps those who help themselves. So when I finally started reading a Bible, I expected to have that verse jump out at me, and I looked for it, and I read it, and I thought, huh, it's weird. It's not in here. Like maybe I don't have a complete Bible, or maybe it's in some weird version, like the new weird translation.

I don't know where it would be. Well, I discovered the Bible doesn't say that at all. In fact, that was the statement made by Benjamin Franklin. It's found in Poor Richard's Almanac, the 1757 edition. Not that I read that a lot.

I just found that out. In fact, what the Bible says is that God helps helpless people, downtrodden people, and that a characteristic of God is his mercy toward them. For instance, Psalm 110, Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.

Surely you will listen to their cries. If you were to go and count up the number of times mercy appears in your Bible, it'd be close to 300. That shows me that it's a priority. Something that appears that many times in your Bible, that kind of quality is a priority. Certainly it is a characteristic of God. Did you know that after the children of Israel sinned with the golden calf in the wilderness and God had a confrontation with them? This is how he introduces himself. I am the Lord God, merciful and gracious.

Isn't that great? That's in the law. That's in the Old Testament. When we come to the New Testament and we find that same theme where in Ephesians Paul says, okay, we were once dead in trespasses and sins and we went the wrong way and we sinned and we did this. But then he says, but God who is rich in mercy.

Again, I love that description of God. In John chapter five, we see a good picture of mercy. In John chapter five, Jesus comes to a man at a place called the pool of Bethesda. Now Bethesda is a Hebrew word that means the house of mercy.

That's what it meant. The pool of Bethesda, the place of mercy. But as you go through the text, it doesn't really sound like a very merciful place because of the people that are there and what's going on there. It's not really a house of mercy.

It'd become a hangout of misery as people are wallowing in their long-standing illnesses without any hope at all. Into that scene walks Jesus. Now something you need to know about the ancient world. A couple thousand years ago when the Romans ruled that part of the world, the whole world actually, mercy was not high on their list of characteristics. In fact, the Romans considered mercy to be a weakness. One Roman philosopher said mercy is the disease of the soul.

That's because Rome glorified courage, strength, and justice. It was not a merciful world. It was a mercy-less world.

Paul describes it in Romans 1 as filled with maliciousness, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. Into that world steps merciful Jesus, touching a man, healing a man's body and spirit, and we discover that he commands anyone who follows him to do the same. Blessed are the merciful, Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount. And those who have been changed by Christ will become merciful people.

It will follow that if you are following the one who is merciful that that characteristic is just going to show up in a son or a daughter of God. Heard a great story about the American Red Cross. This is years ago. They were collecting supplies for the crisis in Biafra.

You may remember way back during that era. And they were collecting money and supplies. Well, a box came into the distribution center one day, American Red Cross Collection Center, and on top of the box was a note. And it read, we have recently been converted. We want to try to help now.

We won't ever need these things again. Can you use them for something? Inside the box were a stack of Ku Klux Klan robes, those white hooded robes that the Ku Klux Klan wears. They had been converted, this group, and were sending them to the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross thought it appropriate to cut them into strips and use them as bandages to heal the African nation. Very appropriate, beautiful act of mercy. Now we're going to look at chapter 5 verses 1 through verse 16 this morning, and we're going to look at the model of Jesus and showing mercy. And we're going to find there are four steps I've outlined. Four steps are in your bulletin of how to meet misery with mercy.

First is to gather frequently. Now that might not make sense to you at first, but I think you'll get it as we go through it. Look at verse 1. After this, there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. We don't know what feast it was, but it was one of the three feasts that people went to Jerusalem for.

We can only guess, our best guess is that it's Passover. And so people would gather from all over the nation to go to Jerusalem and worship. It was like their church. And Jesus was there as well.

Now here's what you need to know. Judaism was far from being a perfect system 2,000 years ago. And yet Jesus limited himself to working through the channel of Judaism. He was dedicated in the Jewish temple. He was bar mitzvahed in the Jewish temple. He went to synagogue service on the Sabbath. We see frequently in the gospel stories. And Paul the apostle said in Galatians 4, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law.

So he's keeping the law. He's gathering together as the biblical law required, gathering with his people. But he will use this gathering to further his father's agenda, to preach the gospel, to heal a man, to show mercy to someone. My point is simple. The perfect place for us as believers to begin a journey of mercy is among other believers.

As we gather frequently, we're going to find that we're in touch with all sorts of needs that has an opportunity for us to share. God's flock needs mercy. Charles Spurgeon said, some Christians try to go to heaven alone in solitude. But they don't.

They in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks and so do God's people. Now what does that have anything to do with mercy?

It's simple. When you gather frequently in church like you're doing now and then later on maybe in a home group or in a men's Bible study or a woman's Bible study, in those groups or in this kind of a setting, when you get to know people, you'll find out that some of them need spiritual things. Some of them need emotional things.

Some need financial help. And all of those will provide an opportunity for you to show mercy to the body of Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 6 verse 10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, but especially to those who belong to the family of believers. So the point is simple.

You want to show mercy? You don't have to go anywhere else in your own backyard at first. Just the family of believers that you gather together with. Which brings up a question. Why do people come to church? There's a lot of answers to that question.

So let's personalize it. Why do we come to church? And again, there's probably a whole list of answers that could be given.

Here's a few suggestions. One reason people come to church is they feel they need to do it. It's their obligation. It's their obligation. It's a duty. I feel like I should do it. It's funny. I'll be in different places around town and somebody will recognize me.

And one of the first things so often out of their mouth is I haven't been to church in a long time. You didn't need to tell me that. That's fine that you did. We can get confessional if you want to. But I know I should.

I really should. And that's how a lot of people go to church. They feel like they should. So they come and when they get here, it's like, is that over yet? You know, they can't wait for it to get over. Some don't wait for it to get over.

They just get up and get out in the middle of it. A second reason people come to church is to meet people. It's social. They figure church is a good place to meet good people.

Not always, but generally that would be true. But it makes perfect sense if you're looking for a wife or a husband or friendship. A good place with good people is a good thing to do. A third reason, this is a higher motive now to come to church, would be simply for God in His glory. To render Him praise. To read His word. To proclaim His worship. To contribute to His work. Very fine motivation.

But let me suggest a fourth reason that is almost as noble as the third. And that is we gather so that God can use us in that gathering somehow. That we'll meet one or two people that need something that I can give to them. I can be an agent to be used by God. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 25.

Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching. Not long ago I met a man in our fellowship, a dear man who lost his wife. He was so bad he was so broken up. I mean his world fell apart for a good reason. I mean his life's mate was gone. He didn't know how to handle it and he was in such depression and such despair and I remember talking to him and praying with him and I felt deeply for him and as weeks went by I didn't see a whole lot of improvement.

Weeks went by I didn't see a whole lot of improvement. One day I'll never forget where and when he walked up to me with a smile on his face. I said what gives?

You look happy. He goes oh I'm going to introduce you to a friend I met here and this other man, this friend had also lost his wife sometime way before that and had been so tender and compassionate and merciful and encouraging to that guy. Mercy happened as they got together. So gather frequently Jesus did gathering for worship in the temple. Here's the second observe compassionately.

Mercy begins by how we see people. Look at verse two. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool which is called in Hebrew Bethesda having five porches.

Now in about a week some of you here will be standing at this exact spot it's been excavated in Jerusalem. In these lay a great multitude of sick people blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water. Then whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity a sickness for 38 years.

That's just a hopeless picture 38 year lingering disease that brought him there. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time he said to him do you want to be made well? Just a word about the pool of Bethesda because I want you to get the picture in your mind. There's a large rectangular pool about two feet maybe three feet deep we are told.

It was used to wash animals in especially sheep before they went up to the temple for sacrifice. Now we don't know how many it says a great multitude of sick people. One source that I read said probably on a normal day there were fewer than 300 people at this huge pool.

But on feast days like this where people would gather from all over in Jerusalem there probably would have been around 3,000 people. Now it doesn't take much imagination to envision that site of wasting away humanity and the stench that would come with it from animals sheep as well as people gathering around that spot who couldn't do much else than just sit. A very desperate place if you've ever been into a third world hospital you have some clue. I was at a hospital hospital in Africa. I was shocked to see in one little bed and there was several beds in one room but in each bed were two patients. They didn't know each other but they were two patients because they didn't have any room anywhere else so they shared a small bed rubbing up next to each other and their families were sleeping on the floor with stoves and food cooking food for their family. Well Jesus steps into this place and if you have a King James Bible I don't know if you have the old King James it says a bunch of impotent folk that's the word used impotent. Now for obvious reasons that's been scratched and it just says in my version a multitude of sick people but impotent is actually a very good accurate description because the word means without strength to help yourself that's the idea. If Ben Franklin was right that God helps those who help themselves then this whole group was doomed because nobody could help themselves they were impotent without strength to help. Why were they gathered at this pool? Well evidently there was some subterranean spring underneath that bubbled up and caused movement of the water and because of that a story circulated around town that it was an angel that would come and move things around and if somebody got there the first person to get there would be instantly healed. It says in verse six Jesus saw him lying there. The word for see is that is the most common New Testament word it's ido it's it's orao in its conjugal form it's a very common word it simply means to look at but often it carries with it the idea of perceiving something beyond what you see that you're seeing something but you're understanding more than what you see and that's why it says in verse six when Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time he said to him do you want to be made well so can you picture it Jesus steps down there's a couple thousand people at least and his eyes surveys this mass of suffering needy hopeless humanity and then his eyes rest on one individual and he looks at him and he knows something about him and then he goes to him my point is that mercy begins by how we see how we see people how we see their condition we always like it when people see us and decide to have mercy on us but is that the way we see others do we see through the eyes of mercy like Jesus did or do we selfishly keep that great gift to ourselves that's tough i know but certainly something worth pondering that's just about all the time we have for today but before we go let's get a closing thought from Skip and lenya Skip can you share some resources with our listeners that will help them go deeper in bible study and encourage them in their faith can i give you resources yeah this is like one of my favorite days ever to talk about it because we got you covered when it comes to resources there's a thing called did you know you can download and listen to over 3500 full length sermons that unpack virtually every book every verse in the bible verse by verse so go to if you want those messages as well as online resource store with books that i've done books that you have done lenya as well and we have you version devotionals if you don't know what you version is that's a great bible app it's the number one bible app in the world and we have streaming devotionals and you can everything from how to break a bad habit to spiritual warfare then we have the podcast connect with Skip podcast you can subscribe on spotify apple podcast google play we have audiobooks of our teachings that are available we have a youtube channel so it just keeps going on and on you have all the things we have all the things so the youtube channel uh it's connect with Skip heitzig tv broadcast and we have so many people around the world that tune into that it's such an honor to be on that platform some of you who are technically challenged there you can just sign up on email and we'll send you a diva there you go so if you can't find hoopla hulu roku or whatever these other portals are just send an email to but and we'll send you a diva we'll do we'll send you a diva but let me just tell you if you are not technically challenged and you're into tech stuff if you have a phone and i'm guessing probably every one of you that is listening to this as some kind of a device you can get an app on your phone it's called the connect with Skip heitzig app it's available at the app store for apple and on google play you can take teachings with you on the go you can read the devo mail it's all there so we invite you to take advantage of these resources here's the best part of it it's free absolutely free well thanks Skip and lenya that just about does it for today we'll continue on with our study of the gospel of john next time so i hope you can set aside some time to join us right here in connect with Skip weekend edition a presentation of connection communications connection connecting you to god's never changing truth in ever-changing times
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-25 04:14:29 / 2022-12-25 04:23:14 / 9

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