Posts Tagged ‘grace’

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)

I always loved this ending to Mark. Scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark originally ended here with verse 16:8. But people didn’t like the fact that the gospel ended with the women fleeing from the tomb and not telling anyone what they had seen. But here is what they missed.

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And the end where the women flee in terror is not the end, but the end of the writing. You see as long as we believe the story, it is still being written. The gospel has not ended, the good news is still being told.

We are all gripped by fear, but Jesus is still living and active in our world, and we can keep writing the Gospel and sharing the story.

So don’t let fear seize you in terror, but go and shout it from the mountaintops that Jesus Christ is Alive and working in your life, and show His love, grace, and mercy in all that you do!

170407You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:1-10, NRSV)

This passage ends with the great Lutheran verses, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” And that is usually where we Lutherans end it. But that isn’t the end of the section or the thought. The author of Ephesians continued, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

You see we are saved by grace, and there is nothing we can do to earn that grace, it is a gift. But because we have the gift we are moved to action. We are moved to do the works God prepared beforehand for us to do.

So we can’t do anything to earn grace, but once we have it, we can’t do enough because of it.

So be saved by a gift, and moved to action by that same grace!

170330Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness. (1 John 2:3-11, NRSV)

If you are a follower of Jesus, then you ought to walk just as He walked.

Love everyone. Show them the mercy that God has given you and allow your life to change the world around you.

You are not here to judge and condemn but to spread grace, mercy, and love to all of the world.

So walk as He walked.

170219“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36, NRSV)

This has to be one of the hardest things to following Jesus.

Because this is what is supposed to set us as Christians apart from the rest of the world. Because as Jesus said everyone loves those who love them and lend to those who will repay and forgive those who ask.

But as Christians we have to love those who hate us, and forgive everyone and lend to all without expecting anything in return.

Because that is what God did for us.

Grace and mercy are gifts, freely given to us, so that we can give them to the world.

170126Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:6-14, NRSV)

Everything done in the dark will be exposed to the light.

So do not deceive yourself. God knows your heart and where you are.

And do not be deceived by others, who will lead you astray from where God has led you.

Live as children of the light producing fruit that lasts and shows forth His grace.

170122Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:12-23, NRSV)

Did you know that Jesus called more than 12 disciples?

Yes, it is true, because depending upon which gospel you read the names of the 12 are different, so are they the same people, or different. But even beyond that, Jesus called more than the 12 to be disciples. He called more than the 12 to be apostles. He called more than 12 to be acolytes. (Most confirmation students are happy about this one!)

There are many of us today that talk about being called. I was called to be the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Little Suamico, WI. And many others are called to be where they are. Actually all of us are called to be where we are.

We are all called to be disciples. Because the word in the Greek that is disciple, μαθητεύω, means to be a learner or a pupil of. Jesus wants all of us to learn from Him.

We are all called to be acolytes. And no I do not mean one who lights candles. The Greek word that we get acolyte from, ἀκολουθέω, means to follow, to accompany. Jesus wants all of us to follow or accompany Him on the journey.

We are all called to be apostles. Because as you have probably guessed the Greek word we get apostle from, ἀποστέλλω, means something, and yes it means to be sent. Jesus sends all of us to go into the world to share His love. He sends us on a journey with Him to show mercy and grace to all.

You see when we talk about being called we get hung up on the what we are called to do. And even though I just set out what we are called to do, Jesus actually just wants us to be. We are called to be, who God has created us to be. A light to the nations. Not to worry about completing a task, but just living out our God given identity through baptism in the world. Being who God created us to be, and showing His grace and mercy to all.

So know you are called to be you.