Antioch Devotionals- August 10-14

MONDAY, AUGUST 10TH Matthew 5:7
By Shawn Hammontree
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”- Matthew 5:7

I have to make a personal confession.  There was a time in my late teens where God showed incredible grace and mercy towards me.  I was convicted of my sins. (And I’m ashamed to say that they were more than I care to admit.) I confessed those sins. I turned from those sins. And God totally forgave me and cleansed from each and every one of them.  I was shown incredible grace and mercy.  I was so overwhelmed by the love and mercy God had shown me, that I displayed love and mercy to others. I just wanted to show them the same love and kindness that I had been given.  One that was free of charge, with no need to ever try and pay me back.  It was a wonderful time in my life.  Unfortunately, things changed.  I began to lose some of the mercy factor in my life.  I gradually began to do things out of a sense of obligation to God rather than out of a sense of appreciation to Him.  What was once a mercy filled life, slowly became a legalistic one.  I was miserable…and misery loves company.  So, where I once showed mercy to others, I became more demanding that they too “go by the rules”.  Mercy had gone out the window of my heart and a works-based faith had barged through the front door.  It was a monster…a big ugly monster…that stayed waaaaay too long.

Praise God that has changed in me!  Although the change has been gradual and slow, and still continues to this day, Jesus, (patiently, mercifully kind as always), has reminded me of the incredible gift of his mercy.  This reminder has helped me to return to the late teens Shawn who was shown such incredible mercy.  And in this process, I am discovering/rediscovering several things:
-God has forgiven me of so much more than I can ever fathom.
-Since His mercy has been freely give to me, I must also freely dispense it.
-His mercies are new for me, and you, every day.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 11TH Matthew 5:7
ByNita Kay Freeman
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy”-Matthew 5:7

Our Pastor opened with this question Sunday morning, “are you a person who shows mercy?”  God’s expectation is that because of the mercy he showed toward us, we should be merciful!  Webster defines mercy as follows:  A compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender . . . showing leniency.  Here are some examples of mercy in the Bible:
M -- Merciful God.  Deuteronomy 4:31 tells us ‘the Lord your God is a merciful God.  He will not abandon you, destroy you or forget the promise to you ancestors that he swore he would keep.”
E -- East to West.  In Psalm 103 David writes, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”
R -- Refusal.  Matthew 6:15, “If you REFUSE to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
C -- Never Ceasing.  “The faithful love of the LORD never ends!  His mercies never cease.”  Lamentations 3:22
Y -- You.  “You once were not a people but now you are God’s people.  You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  1 Peter 2:10.

Thank you, Father, for your unending mercy!
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12TH Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV), 
Intentions By Kerry Stitch
“His mercies never end…They are new every morning.”-Lamentations 3:22-23

What grabs your attention…headlines, hobbies, homeland security, hate, heroes, or hypocrisy?  Hit pause. Are we sleep-walking through attention or intention?   Is it labeled purposeful, reactive, or urgent? Who will benefit from knowing you this week…just you? When we choose to board a mindless carnival ride of a self-imposed schedule, we will “busy” our best intentions into evaporation. Margaret Thatcher wisely noted, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions…”  Perhaps the BE-attitudes give us an enlightening nudge that a huge helping of MERCY needs to be folded in to our daily recipe for a God-honoring lifestyle.  
The creative genius in Thomas Edison reveals, “A good intention with a bad approach, often leads to a poor result.” That statement needs to “simmer” on many of us for a while.  The “how” we approach intentions is answered with MERCY.    
 So how do we recalibrate many of our human, factory settings and increase our band width of “to be” benevolent instead of “to do” indulgent?  Look for the Father’s face in others.  Are you game?  First, rewind to the personal reflections of our less than stellar past or present. Does a mirror bring into focus our lack of graciousness, decency, and concern?  Life doesn’t always introduce us to the people we want to meet.  Offering grace is a testimony of seeking a greater good than deserved…of tossing the prison cell keys to others on our journey out of those restrictive walls.  
An awareness of God’s infinite mercy will cancel any pity party we care to throw.   Not long ago, I released many prayers and balloons at the gravesite of a family member who modeled compassion (kindness with clothes on) for decades to me.  As those purple globes of color cleared the trees, their flight soared skyward.  Consider how much farther we might soar for the Kingdom if we extended mercy through intentional acts of service, exercising forgiveness, believing the best in others, choosing to be clothed in humility and anonymity, and listening for God’s whisper. Untethering resentment, anger and bitterness, frees these toxins to lift and lighten your load and spirit.  Spreading mercy through service and encouragement might be a “virus” worth catching.  Those stats would directly impact the death rate for eternity.   Wouldn’t that be something worth grabbing our attention these days?  That vaccine is already available and proven through accepting Jesus…schedule that heart procedure as well; the Great Physician is available for diagnosis, and overflowing with positive cases of mercy.
By  Toya Aultman
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”-Matthew 5:7

Grace: getting what you don't deserve.
Mercy: not getting what you do deserve.

I've never had much of a problem showing grace. It, quite frankly, comes so much easier to me than mercy. It doesn't matter if it's a stranger on the street or one of my kids, giving a gift of grace is, most of the time, quite easy.
BUT mercy?? Oh mercy! That one is a struggle. I'm guessing I may not be the only one who struggles with it. The other day I read a Facebook post of a friend that said she had rushed into a grocery store and forgot her mask. Some lady (a complete stranger) told her "I hope you get the virus and die!" I was like, "WHAT??!!"
Perhaps our lack of mercy isn't quite that harsh, but let someone cut me off in traffic, or be going 45 in the fast lane and grrrr! My kids will often tell me they deserve something and my reply is "The only thing we deserve is death and hell." This week, I'm praying God reminds me of that daily...that while I deserve death and Hell, He offers me mercy, new mercies every single day, and eternal life in Heaven with Him!

Father, thank You for viewing me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for those precious new mercies given to me every single day. Amen.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14TH Philippians 2:5 (NIV)
Show Mercy by Chris Blacksmith
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 2:5

What’s the quickest way to reconcile a relationship? Show Mercy.
What’s the hardest thing to do when you’ve been wronged?
Show Mercy.
What was the example set before us by Christ?
Show Mercy.
How exactly does one show mercy?  Paul said in Philippians 2:5, “...let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” This verse in its context clearly challenges us to relate with each other just as the Lord relates to us.  We are to be like minded, walk in love, show humility, and value others above ourselves.  Amazingly enough this can’t happen if we fail to show mercy. If you’re like me and you struggle with this facet of life try following these effective steps and before you know it you’ll have extended the biblical principle of mercy to someone who desperately needs it.  
M- Manage to forgive
E- Expect nothing in return
R- Replace the hurt and anger with love and peace
C- Change your mind to be like minded with Christ
Y- Yield to the will of God concerning you