Ivy Grow Group Notes
Our next beatitude is…
7 “Blessed are those who show mercy.
They will be shown mercy.”
I remember playing a school game called ‘mercy’ it involved showing you were stronger than your opponent by bending or crushing their hands in a dual! It was lots of fun! The winner was the first to get their opponent to shout ‘mercy’. I grew up with the concept of needing mercy as being a sign of weakness. In Jesus’ time mercy was not seen as a strength by philosophers (like Aristotle) or the Roman empire.
At university I did my main project on forgiveness. I was assigned a mentor whose specialty was counselling. She was intrigued by my project on forgiveness and commented how it wasn’t something particularly used in her counselling practice or very evident in psychology literature. I knew from that time that forgiveness is not something that is taken very seriously in our culture, but Jesus insists it is the mark of living in his Kingdom.
Do you think asking for mercy or forgiveness is a sign of weakness in our culture?
Jesus said (Luke 6:35,26) “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is merciful; you be merciful.”
This passage outlines a key trait of being children of God. The word for ‘mercy’ here could be translated ‘whole’ or ‘perfect’ suggesting that spiritual health is connected to being merciful or one who has a soft heart.
How important have you thought mercy is for the Christian walk?
Below are three signs of mercy working in your life: Worship, Words and Works. Give yourself a number 1-10 on how well developed they are in your life.
WORSHIP: READ LUKE 7:36-50
It says toward the end “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” The women in the passage demonstrates worship as a response to Jesus allowing her to be near. Jesus declares over her she is forgiven. Part of worship is a response to God’s mercy shown in Christ.
Take a moment to offer God thanks for his mercy.
Give yourself a number 1-10 on how well developed your worship is in response to God’s mercy.
WORDS: READ LUKE 23:34
It says “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
Jesus offers words to forgive his executioners. Forgiveness is a gift offered. It requires one to feel the offence and come to the decision to forgive. It is costly. But not as costly as not forgiving, which can lead to bitterness, resentment and disconnection from God. If you have an offence to forgive and it is difficult to offer words of forgiveness to God then ask a friend or leader at Ivy to help you through the process.
Pray for a moment for God to reveal any offence you’re holding onto. Think about your job, your family, spouse, church members. Write down the offence on a piece of paper, then screw up the paper and put in the bin as a sign of letting it go. Then take a moment to pray a blessing over the person who offended you.
Give yourself a number 1-10 on how clear your heart is from offence.
WORKS: READ MATHEW 25:31-46
This passage is about works of mercy. It builds on the understanding that we are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ. Our actions of mercy are the fruit of the gospel in our heart. Acts of mercy flow from a heart that is forgiven and a heart that forgives. If you miss out the worship and the words, you are in danger of good works that are disconnected from a relationship with God’s heart. In other words ‘dead works’!
As a church we have many great projects that do great works of mercy in Manchester, UK and beyond.
Check out to see the great work of the following ministries. Maybe you could get involved?
www.n-gage.org.uk ; http://www.dignityonline.org.uk/ ; http://www.message.org.uk/ www.roc.uk.com
Works of mercy can be shown as part of a community project or organised effort, but most importantly its about having a soft heart as a result of experiencing God’s loving mercy and responding to people’s needs where ever we meet people.
Give yourself a number 1-10 on whether you demonstrate acts of mercy.
Take a few minutes to pray for the needs of the people in the city.
Remember what numbers you gave yourself for each aspect of mercy then ask God to soften your heart and help you grow in mercy in worship, words and works.
Worship by offering thanks for His mercy.
Pray Words of forgiveness to those who have offended you.
Then serve one another as a symbol of Works of mercy being shared this week.