Immense mercy, incredible love

1-6It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.  (Eph. 2:1-6)

It amazes me how well-connected with "real life" the Apostle Paul was!  He certainly knows how to "peg" us with the reality of our sinful nature - mired and stagnant, following the advice of someone who is as just as unaware of the destructiveness of their path as we are!  Sheesh!  Look at how simply he puts his amazement that God has compassion on such a wayward lot of hopeless sin-filled people!  

Mired lives - yep, that about sums up the reality of where I was prior to giving my heart to the Lord.  As a matter of fact, there are some moments in present day living when I wonder if the "mire" was completely washed away!  My choices seem to indicate I may just be living a little bit by my own motivations, and listening to the wrong source for my life choices on occasion.  The difference today is that listening to the world's advice and using those sources as my chief way of living is not a consistent thing - I walk to the beat of a different drummer now!  

Look at all God has done for us in salvation.  First, he exhibits the greatest of restraint in not just zapping all of us with his "fire from on high" and doing away with us!  Paul puts it in politically correct terms when he says "he didn't lose his temper."  To be truthful, there are some days I'd "zap" the whole lot of us if I were God!  That is why I am not God!  He has immense mercy - far beyond what we can even imagine or comprehend with our finite minds.  It is not mercy for yesterday or some time in the future - it is new every morning and present even before we need it!  Wow!

God is also incredible in love - he'd have to be to exhibit that kind of unconditional mercy and compassion for a lost world.  We simply don't understand this kind of committed love today.  We live in a society so "free" to give love and just as "free" to walk away from it when things get tough that we don't really understand the covenant love of God.  It is that depth of love that reaches out to us even before we are aware that we need to be reached out to - he initiates the love, keeps it going, and embraces us over and over again, even when that love may not be immediately reciprocated.  Bask in that a while!

In the end, he pulls us out of the muck of our lives.  Mired lives simply mean that we are bogged down, entangled in stuff that causes us to sink deeper into the sinful condition we are living in.  Jesus provided us the way out of the "bog" of our sinful existence and provided the extreme opposite of that entanglement - freedom to sit at the side of a holy and loving God.  The amazing part of all of this is that God provides it all without ONE iota of work on our part!  It is a gift.  Okay, I just have to say it again - amazing!  

The opportunity to be "in Christ" is a gift.  The opportunity to be loved and embraced by a loving God is a gift.  The freedom to no longer be lead into things that entangle us and bog us down is a gift.  The freshness of mercy new every morning is a gift.  We may have received gifts in the past that "under-whelmed" us - making us head for the "exchange" line as quickly as possible.  God's gift to us through his Son and his ongoing gift "in us" through his Son IN us is certainly a "keeper"!


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