pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Love Mercy Grace

Reading: Luke 23:39-43

Verse 43: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

As we continue today with our Luke 23 passage for this week, let’s just begin by being honest: folks struggle with this passage. Christians almost universally love the words of forgiveness that Jesus speaks in verse 34. They are evidence of Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. We cherish these gifts that we receive in faith from Jesus. Some, however, can struggle with the words of forgiveness that come in verse 43.

There is a third person on a cross. This other thief joins in with the mocking of Jesus. He basically says that if Jesus is really the Messiah, then save yourself – and us! He is selfish. There is no belief. In this moment he’d just like enough of that love, mercy, and grace to get him out of this situation. “Just give me what I want right now and I might see you again when I need something” is his mantra. And as much as we feel disdain for this character, the truth is that at one point we have lived this kind of faith. Hard as that is to admit, here is a deeper truth. Once we think ourselves worthy of Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace, we begin to draw a line for others. We judge, we place conditions, we set up unspoken expectations, we limit access to Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. Welcome to thief two.

The second thief speaks up too. Only he recognizes what love, mercy, and grace looks like as it hangs beside him on the middle cross. He hears Jesus do the unthinkable: he offers it all to those who unjustly placed him on this cross. He is drawn to this Jesus. As a declaration of faith he asks to be remembered. Jesus tells him: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” This is where some struggle. They get rankled at this deathbed confession and the ease with which Jesus accepts this man into faith. No judgement, no conditions, no expectations, no limits. In an instant the man sees Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace and is drawn into a relationship with the Savior. He steps into paradise in that very moment. Friends, may our love, mercy, and grace be as generous, accepting, and welcoming as Christ’s is.

Prayer: Lord God, what love! Anyone, everyone, anytime, anywhere. A lifetime, part of a lifetime, just a moment as death stands at the door. Relationship. This is where we come to see and understand your love, mercy, and grace. Relationship. It is where we are equipped and empowered to live these things out. May it be so. Amen.


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God’s Wisdom

We as Christians have the opportunity each day to take the wisdom that God offers and to share it with the world.  God’s wisdom is pure and holy, gentle and peaceful, accepting, willing to serve, and is sincere.  When we look at and live out our lives in this manner, not only is our life better, so are the lives of all around us.

When we allow God’s wisdom to be our guide, we build bonds of true community.  Here we grow seeds that will become the fruits of love and harmony and unity.  Living in God’s wisdom allows us to begin to build His kingdom here on earth.

In contrast to and opposing this is the world’s wisdom.  Characteristics like envy, greed, lust, mistrust, and selfishness tear down community and destroy relationships.  They give rise to anger, conflict, disputes, and separation.

As individuals and as communities of faith, we have opportunities to be bearers of God’s ways and wisdom.  We can choose to live lives of mercy, grace, love, compassion, and service.  If this is the ‘flavor’ of our lives, then we in turn will flavor those around us.

In the world there is plenty of negative, plenty of the world’s wisdom.  God’s wisdom can counter this and be a light to all we are in relationship with.  When we allow patience and goodness and righteousness to saturate our entire beings, then these things seep out in to those around us.  May God’s wisdom and love be our guide as we seek to build His kingdom here on earth.

Scripture reference: James 3: 13-18