Grace Notes: All God's Children
Dear Grace Family,
What’s the difference between mercy, grace and forgiveness? We have those concepts all knotted together in our minds as we think about our salvation. We pretty much understand that we’re not deserving of any of the three – after all, no one knows our hearts, minds and actions better than us, but we can’t help but wonder if we deserve all the pain of this world either.
I think part of our inability to grasp the greatness of grace, mercy or forgiveness is the fact that we’re incapable of granting it as unfailingly as God does. We are wonderful “excuse makers.” We have the unique ability to find someone (or something) else to blame for every problem in our lives. When all else fails, we can always point the finger at Adam and Eve. After all, this whole mess started with them, right?
So back to the difference between the three life-changing words? Grace is really defined as “goodwill or credit,” but the Latin origin of the word is gratia – meaning pleasing, thankful or grateful. So grace is God giving us an unlimited line of credit against all the mess we are going to create in our lives (yes – He knew that we’d mess up again, even after sending His only Son to be the sacrifice for our past transgressions).
Mercy is from the Latin merces, which means pity or favor. Those two things may seem very different but they are really closely related. God took mercy on us, understanding our frailty and faults, and with great love, taking pity on us, made provision for them.
Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” That scripture is giving us the promise that we can come to our Father without reservation or timidness, despite all that we know about ourselves. We are approaching the One who sits on a THRONE OF GRACE – not judgment or criticism. We can obtain mercy for the past, and grace for the present and for the future.
And forgiveness? Forgiveness is the bridge between the two. The great theologian, John Calvin, said “while sin is overflowing, grace pours itself forth so exuberantly, that it not only overcomes the flood of sin, but wholly absorbs it.” That emphasizes the fact that once God has forgiven our sins they are completely wiped out of His remembrance.
We know that because Psalm 103:8-12 reminds us that God is “merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love. He never bears a grudge, nor remains angry forever. He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for His mercy toward those who fear and honor Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. That is forgiveness.
And that sums up the greatness of grace. It covers what is behind us, what we are facing today, and what is before us in the future. All with the same steady, loving kindness of God. There will never be any residual resentment over the sacrifice He’s made on our behalf, or our continued failures. And in fact, He gives us a clean slate day by day and moment by moment.
Like the ripples from stones skipping across the water, God continues to forgive – loving us with limitless mercy and grace.
Be blessed my Grace family. God is on the throne!
While we don’t have any special events planned at this time, we have resumed regular morning worship at 10 am. Masks will be required, and we will be following all the mandates for social distancing -- but this is such a wonderful step towards being together again. I hope you can join us for community worship and fellowship.
Also -- be reminded that Ladies Bible study is continuing on Zoom. You can join us on Tuesday night at 7 pm. For more information, please reach out to Pastor Bobbie.
Thank you for your continued faithfulness in your tithes and offerings so we can maintain our ability to reach out to a needy world. You can give online here, or mail your checks to 3144 N G Street, Suite 125 PMB 308 Merced, CA 95340.
Sr. Pastor Eric Domen has a passion for his flock, and for the community of Merced and beyond. His strength and leadership are only surpassed by his generosity and passion to evangelize. He holds a degree in Counseling, and has a heart for the people of our community. Pastor E resides in Merced with his wife and children.
Pastor Bobbie Frye is our Administrative Pastor. She has been in ministry for more than 20 years, and is a 3rd generation Foursquare Pastor. She is a writer and musician, and takes care of Womens Ministries and Worship Arts. She has a background in Procurement and Marketing, in addition to her pastoral experience. Pastor Bobbie resides in Merced.