(I don't know what's wrong with blogger today... I keep separating my paragraphs and they keep running together... this may be hard to read but please, give it a shot!) Then David said to God, "I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." 1 Chronicles 21:8 Have you ever thought about the fact that the innocent don't need mercy? The innocent may need justice... but only the guilty need mercy. I'm using a new bible study website... http://www.biblestudytools.com/ . I did a search for the word "guilt" and found myself wading through twenty pages of Leviticus guilt verses. No wonder Jewish mothers are so good at dispensing guilt... OY! The Old Testament is full of guilt! Of course, us evangelical Christians believe that the Old Testament or "Old Covenant" made the case that we needed a "New Covenant" or New Testament because the old one - living under Law as a means to reach God - was simply impossible. If you want a really good "guilt chapter" ... check out the ninth chapter of Ezra. Those Israelites had done some pretty rotten things... and God had been merciful to them. What has me thinking about guilt this morning? A couple of things. One... I really messed up my checking account and was majorly overdrawn. I thought my rent check from the 1st had cleared and it hadn't... it didn't go into the bank until the 28th... leaving me deep in a hole. When you live paycheck to paycheck... and you are dealing with the kind of medical expenses I've had so far this year... you can't afford to make that kind of mistake. I asked for mercy and I received help. That was the first thing. Then...A good friend who I dearly love was facing DUI charges. They were guilty. They admitted it. It was a stupid thing to do... a dangerous thing to do... and I found myself praying for mercy for them. Another person did something careless that caused the death of his child. HIS OWN CHILD. Can you imagine the heartbreak? And now he's facing charges for manslaughter and cruelty to children (based on the child's pain and suffering before he died). He is guilty and he faces time in prison... although the mental anguish that he will carry for the rest of his life is a prison of it's own. He's guilty but man... does he need mercy! On Sunday... when my lily white nieces who have been raised in a predominantly white community were verbally attacked while visiting their grandparents in Riverdale... a predominantly black area. A black girl screamed racial epithets at them... tried to provoke them... and scared them to death. As we were talking about it, I reminded the girls that Jesus died for this angry black girl, just like he died for them. Their eyes were big as saucers as I reminded them that Jesus died for murderers... mean people... everyone. That's the thing about guilt... whether it's something as minor as being irresponsible... or yelling at your kids... or racism... or causing a death... there's always mercy available. David is my favorite all time bible character because he was one of the bible's biggest sinners. Pick a sin... David committed it... murder, adultery, ignoring God's instructions... but David... found mercy. This is a psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. from Psalms 51: 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Although we're taught that all sins are equal... there is no "deadly" sin (except unbelief)... all sin separates us from God and prevents us from fulfilling His purpose here on earth but... all sin... ALL SIN... can be forgiven. There was a time that my big mouth hurt someone I care deeply for... I avoided him like the plague because I didn't want to have to face up to my guilt. One day... I literally RAN into him... and had to come face to face with the person I hurt... and I had to admit my guilt and you know what he said? "I forgave you a long time ago"... the forgiveness was already there WAITING for me. Where I thought I had been avoiding my punishment, I had been avoiding mercy. The young man whose child was killed will go to trial soon. He has a wife and a brand new baby and he wants very desperately to find mercy... to be able to be a husband and father... and God has laid him on my heart in such a strong way. I'm committing to pray for him and I hope you will too. I intend to minister to him with cards... anonymously... just to help him find hope through this time of trial. Literally, a time of trial. I pray that he finds mercy. I pray that today... when faced with people who don't act like they should toward you, that you will find it within yourself to extend the kind of mercy that God extends toward you every day. And I pray that whatever it is that is in your heart that makes you want to avoid God for fear of facing up to your guilt, run into Him today... your mercy is waiting. love and hugs!