Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (NKJV)
As far as the daily grind of living life goes, this would have to be one of the most encouraging verses in Scripture. If you’ve been alive long, you understand that each day brings its share of difficulties and temptation. We struggle with sin and falling short of what we know God would have us to be or to do.
I often feel sorry for people who are trapped in religions were you must earn eternal life or any type of reward knowing the reality is that we are born with a sinful nature. Only when the Creator God frees us from the slavery of sinfulness can we have a chance at any consistent or genuine goodness. I often wonder what the people of other religions secretly feel deep down when it comes to hope or fulfillment. No matter what face is painted on the surface of a religion, my guess is that the vast majority of people trying to earn eternal life through a man-made religion must feel empty, frustrated and anxious. Sadly, maybe they are so thoroughly deceived that they have complete trust in their own efforts to save themselves.
Compare that hopelessness to the joy of the God we serve:
God Is Good
God is good all the time, all the time God is good. I occasionally attended a church in Tulsa who often repeated this phrase. I think it is a phrase we would all do well to repeat several times a day. Often we have a picture of God the taskmaster who sits above with piercing eyes ready to crack us in the skull every time we mess up. Maybe we have taken the opposite view that God doesn’t care about our lukewarmness or worldliness, and is just a kindly old gentleman ready to reach into his pocket and give us candy every time we ask. Both views are terribly incorrect and do a great disservice to God.
- God is wise:
1 Timothy 1:16-17 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV)
- God is faithful:
Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (NKJV)
- God is love:
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NKJV)
- God is righteous and just:
Psalm 119:137 Righteous are You, O Lord, And upright are Your judgments. (NKJV)
Far from being the merciless slavedriver or overly critical punisher that many of us worry He is, God is good and wants what is good for us. Make no mistake, God is not slack concerning sin and His wrath will burn greatly on those who ignore Him. For His children, He is a great and good God who at times may need to discipline and correct us but never ceases to be good to us.
Ready to Forgive
Aren’t you glad that God is ready to forgive? Given how much we struggle with sin and assuming we are honest with ourselves about it, wouldn’t it be a terrible burdensome thing if God was not always ready to forgive us? It is one of the great benefits and blessings of this life that we are never more than one prayer of repentance away from cleaning up our lives and being right with God.
Do you need a sin bath today? God provides the water and the soap:
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (NKJV)
When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. Notice there is no number of times or limit listed. The only requirement is our genuine confession and repentance.
If the fact that God is ready to forgive you at a moments notice does not excite you, give you peace and fill you with joy, you either don’t understand sin, or you don’t understand forgiveness.
Abundant in Mercy
God is not just merciful, He is abundant in mercy! When God is abundant in anything you can bet the farm it means He has a whole bunch of it!
I don’t know about you but there is rarely a day that goes by that I’m not thankful that God has an overflowing abundance of mercy that He is willing to show to me. I think I would live in constant depression and gloom if I could not take hold of the fact that God is merciful to me, a sinner. Consider my favorite verse:
Lamentations 3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (NKJV)
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. Notice the implication. If we did not have the Lord’s mercies, we would be consumed. Consumed by what? By life, by hopelessness, by guilt and by the endless struggle with sin. Each morning we can wake up to the faithful and merciful God who is ready to pour His mercy on us.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
God is good. God is wise. God is love. God is righteous and just. God is ready to forgive. God is abundant in mercies. God is all those things – but not to everyone. There is a qualification you have to meet to be the recipient of those attributes of God. Everyone loves the merciful part, even the world, but when it comes to the fact that you must avail yourself of these things on God’s terms, that is where God’s mercy ends for the majority of humankind who reject Him.
God is only merciful on His terms.
Mercy or wrath. Your choice. His way.
God’s mercy is reserved for those who call upon His name in faith, repentance and obedience. If you don’t think that’s fair, tough luck (actually if you don’t think that’s fair it’s because you don’t truly understand, or choose to understand, faith in God). For what ever myriad of reasons man rejects God’s overwhelmingly gracious offer of mercy the result is the same: instead of mercy you will receive wrath. To the degree that God’s abundant mercy is ready and waiting for those who call upon Him, God’s abundant wrath will be poured out on those who turn their back on Him. It shows the typical arrogance and sinfulness of man to want God’s mercies but to ignore or deny the existence of His wrath.
God is good and ready to forgive. The Lord is full of mercy for you today if you will call upon His name. If you have never called His name before, then today you can move from being a target of His wrath to a recipient of His mercy and love. If you are already a believer, call upon His name today, asking for forgiveness and He will faithfully cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Say it with me: God is good all the time, all the time God is good. Come on, don’t be bashful, say it out loud with me: God is good all the time, all the time God is good.
Okay, one last thing. If saying that makes you feel good and gives you hope this morning, wouldn’t you want to share it with someone else who desperately needs it? Find another person this morning at work, at school, wherever you are at, and be bold enough to tell them “God is good all the time, all the time God is good” and see if it does not open a door for you to share God’s love with them.
Lord God, help us to have a correct image of You, never ignoring or denying Your wrath or justice but at the same time never forgetting that You are good and ready to forgive, full of mercy and always faithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: If you live with the constant fear or idea that you have done things in your life that God either cannot forgive or that He will have a hard time forgiving, then you need to spend some time studying what the Bible says about God’s mercy and his forgiveness. There is no sin or choice that you have ever made that could possibly shock God, making it hard for Him to want to forgive you. For several thousands of years God has witnessed evil and wickedness beyond any of our comprehension. Call upon His name, turn from your sin and respond to God in obedient faith. It will be God’s pure joy to forgive you, cleanse you and give you eternal life.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?