Guide for "Mercy Season"
August 7 - September 27, 2020
See menu for Bible readings and additional seasonal material
Jesus stood for truth and goodness, never broke a rule or a promise, never did a thing wrong, but got tortured and executed anyway! No one in history ever had more right to take revenge than he did, but he did not use that right.
Instead he accepted his execution as a central part of his role in God's ancient plan to show mercy and restore humanity. He even asked God to forgive his killers!
As you ponder his agonizing self-sacrifice, you will like what you are becoming--a person who has received mercy and has mercy to share. So get into the spirit of Mercy Season, using the "Guide for Aug 7 - Sep 27" in the menu.
Drops of blood are the SYNC icon for Mercy Season because Jesus sacrificed his own blood, his own life, to replace the judgment we deserved with the mercy we didn't deserve. His sacrifice is not meek and mild mercy. It is agonizing, heroic mercy! It is a spectacular payment of the price of our selfishness, paid on our behalf by a sinless person!
In Jesus's day, a lot of people didn't understand how the Messiah, sent by God to rule the world forever, could be killed. They didn't realize that the prophets had predicted his suffering and even his death. They didn't get it that the Messiah would use mercy as a key lever of power. And of course, they didn't imagine that he would be raised from the dead!
Mercy Season is the time of year to discover what debt Jesus paid off for us, what new debt he laid onto us, and how our actions as "mercy agents" fulfill the purpose he had when he made his sacrifice in the first place.
The "5G Quick Overview" below will establish your high-speed connection to Mercy Season. You may start there or with any of the links in these two lists:
Whole Bible - the Mercy Rhythm as the main thread of the whole biblical story
As you catch onto the Mercy Rhythm and move with it, you will discover what it means to "See Yourself iN Christ." He is doing something huge in the world, signaling the arrival of a new era, and you are part of the signal. People, except those who are seriously locked into the old era, will like to be around you because the new era is "mercy time" not "payback time." Your assignment is to make sure the whole world gets the memo, "We are living in a grace period before payback time. Take advantage of the mercy now while it is available."
Going with the "5G" flow during Mercy Season
1G - Game-changer. How Jesus presented his sacrificial blood in heaven.
The final "Day of Atonement" was the day Jesus presented his own atoning blood in the heavenly Temple, then sat down on his throne. That act is the game-changer that is the basis of the Mercy Rhythm. MORE
2G - Gift. A grace period is available now because the game changed
The gift we get as a result is mercy, and that equips us to participate in Jesus' mission in the "grace period" between his sacrifice and his return as King. MORE
3G - Get it. The gift helps us if we "get it" that Jesus has shown us mercy
If we "get it," if we understand God's game-changer and the gift of mercy, that is the "Ah-hah moment" when something inside us changes. MORE
4G - Go with it. Once we "get it," we enjoy the gift and we show mercy to others
We live out what God has done inside us. We become God's mercy agents on earth, working in SYNC with strategy. MORE
5G - Genuineness. As we "go with it," we become mercy agents
We find our authentic identity in Christ because of his mercy. We are 100% genuine people, not having to fake anything or hide anything any more. The blood of Christ has exposed it all and taken care of it all! We become part of God's strategy to heal the world by giving it the mercy it does not deserve. MORE
1G - Game-changer How Jesus presented his sacrificial blood in heaven
God sent Jesus into the world to take charge and to rule earth with heaven's authority and justice. Humanity rejected him as an impostor and killed him. What could ever make up for such a blind, vicious, arrogant mistake?
Suppose you as a friend send your son to my house with gifts, but I think he is a murderer impersonating your son. If I kill him and throw his body in the street, what could ever restore our friendship? I could never do enough to restore it. It would only be restored if, for some unknown reason, you decided to restore it instead of taking revenge.
God sent his son to earth, brimming with kindness and goodness, to take his relationship with humanity to the next level. But he told his son to accept rejection and execution. Then he declared that he would treat the execution not as treason against him (which it was) but as a "sacrifice." The blood of that sacrifice would unite humanity with him instead of dividing us from him and causing our doom. He would take the stupidest, most horrifying act in human history, the one thing that deserved worse punishment than anything else, and transform it into the means of mercy for us. He would transform the unforgivable into the unforgettable.
Jesus executed God's ancient plan of mercy. He "offered himself" on the cross as the victim. After his resurrection and ascension, he also "offered his blood" on the altar in heaven. That act as our "High Priest" is the basis for the Mercy Rhythm. It changes the cross from a brutal execution into a means of healing. Jesus's blood on our hands should mean doom but he wipes it off our hands and presents it as a sacrifice in heaven, using it to bring us redemption and restoration. Our hands are clean because of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice and the perfect hero.
2G - Gift Mercy is available now because the game changed
Each of SYNC's seven game-changers comes with a new gift for us. The gift we get from Jesus as our High Priest is mercy, or rather, a grace period to receive mercy. If we take advantage of the grace period, we can have our slate wiped clean, our broken relationship with God restored.
The idea of a grace period may sound odd to many people who think of God in terms of timeless truths. Good has been and always will be good. Evil has been and always will be evil. God's character is reliable, has not changed and never will.
But the timeless view overlooks the huge fact that the world has a story, and it moves through stages. To live wisely in this story, we do have to know the timeless truths but we also have to know which stage of the story we are in and how we got here.
We are in the grace period, "Mercy Time." And this era overlaps with the two before it--"Freedom Time" which Jesus proclaimed and "Power Time" that began when the Holy Spirit was poured into and among his followers. The gift of mercy is within reach.
3G - Get it The gift helps us if we "get it," if we see why God gave that gift
We "get it" if we see that by giving up his life and his power, Jesus was actually taking over the world! He was doing something so powerfully persuasive that people would honor him as their King instead of rejecting him as an impostor.
Here is his takeover strategy. He was mercifully removing one debt we could never pay off and replacing it with another one! He removed the debt of our sin, our wanting to live life in our own way without regard for him. That removal is so liberating for us that it causes a debt of gratitude. We can't pay it off, but we love to keep trying! We gratefully want to live life his way, in SYNC with his strategy, instead of ours.
Here is the tricky part. Jesus' sacrifice does not automatically cancel our sin debt, the penalty we have accumulated over a lifetime. His sacrifice gives us a window of opportunity for getting our debt canceled.
So what is the opportunity and when does it run out?
The opportunity is to realize that Jesus's sacrificial blood was presented on behalf of a certain group and to get into that group while enrollment is still open during the grace period. Enrollment will close when Jesus returns to earth as King to enforce his rule.
There is just one thing we must do now to enroll. We have to agree to become "mercy agents," forgiven people who are forgiving people.
Caution: We don't get the idea if we think that accepting Christ's sacrifice is like signing a contract. A contract is cut and dried, and it has no implications about gratitude or respect. Christ's mercy is never presented to us as a contract. It's a favor. A favor comes with expectations about appropriate gratitude and respect, but these are not all spelled out like the terms of a contract. That would spoil the favor. Christ's mercy is not a contract that gives us guarantees and leverage. It is the basis for a connection with Christ and his whole global team of mercy agents.
Caution: We don't get the idea if we think that God calculates our sin debt by weighing our good deeds against our bad, and that we only need enough mercy to tip the balance in our favor. Our link with God is an all or nothing thing, like a chain or a bucket. If a chain has 49 good links and one broken link, do the 49 outweigh the one? If a bucket has only one hole in the bottom, do all the "non-holes" (the solid parts) outweigh the one hole? We all have at least one hole, so even the best of us are totally lost without God's mercy.
Caution: We don't get the idea if we think God only wants to show us that he is kind and loving. In that case, we are likely to get presumptuous and assume he will forgive us the next time too. Jesus was not raised from the grave so that his enemies could kill him a second time! Forgiveness of a mistake is not permission to repeat it.
4G - Go with it Once we "get it," we enjoy the gift and we work so others can enjoy it
When we get it, we realize that to "have mercy" means both to possess mercy and to show mercy. We "have it" ourselves and we also "have mercy" on others. We are in SYNC with the mercy of Jesus, going along with his plan to flood the world with his mercy.
It is his gentle method of taking control of the world. It may seem like a weak strategy, but nothing else has the transforming power of God's mercy shown in Christ's self-sacrifice.
That is what we represent. We are agents of his mercy not officials of his government. We do not take control. We only show his mercy, and his mercy brings willing people under his control.
This is a great way to live! As messengers of the merciful sacrifice of Jesus, we are the salve for all the wounds and scars of the world. People who were bitter and vengeful can be released. People who were traumatized or abused can benefit from one who has been through worse things than they have. And they can become mercy agents so that Jesus's healing and his control spread further.
On the other hand, if we welcome Jesus's sacrifice for us but do not forgive others, we are not "going with" his mercy and his plan. We are out of SYNC with his purpose. We are trying to get his forgiveness to work for us without letting it flow through us to others. We are trying to work the system, and the King does not tolerate that. We either forgive others or we forfeit his forgiveness ourselves. (Matthew 6.14)
5G - Genuineness As we "go with it," we become mercy agents
We find our authentic identity in Christ because of his mercy. We are 100% genuine people, not having to fake anything or hide anything any more. The blood of Christ has exposed it all and taken care of it all! In SYNC with Christ and his purpose, we become part of God's strategy to heal the world by giving it the mercy it does not deserve.
The world is not kind to us as mercy agents any more than it was kind to Jesus himself. There is a lot of pain and suffering involved. We have to bite our tongues, stop our urge to retaliate, and turn to God with our tears.
But nothing is more genuine evidence of God's secret power at work than the way we handle the wrongs people do to us when we represent Jesus to them. There is no human explanation for our good will toward their enemies, our joy that bubbles up no matter what, and our trust in the King who will make everything right in the end.
Only the mercy of God in Christ can account for it. We received it as a gift, and we are giving what we received from Christ, not giving back the evil that people gave us. We are in SYNC with his intentions on the day he presented his sacrificial blood in the Temple in heaven.