Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“Since we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we are justified by God’s grace as a gift.” – The Apostle Paul.

“Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more… And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less… Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.” – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Martin Luther spent much of his life trying to earn God’s favor. The problem with trying to earn God’s favor is that we can never really be sure that we have done enough; to earn God’s favor or to overcome our own missteps. There is little peace to be found in this uncertainty. We cannot rest because there is no sense of security, and we feel the constant pressure to do more. This is the opposite of living in freedom, this is living in fear, motivated by fear, trying to escape punishment, always unsure of one’s fate. Is God a cruel judge, keeping score, waiting for us to fall, ready at the first miscue to condemn us to hell? The Bible tells us that “God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Jesus never met a sinner that he didn’t like, he was the Master of new beginnings, proclaiming good news and calling people to live differently. The call to live differently was not a test to earn one’s salvation or God’s favor, rather it was an invitation to abundant life in the here and now. If we live as Jesus taught us, our life will be better and the lives of those we live with will be better also.

So here’s the deal: nothing you do matters, when it comes to your salvation. Jesus died for you. God loves you. God’s love is not for sale, money or good works cannot purchase God’s favor. Everything is a gift. You arrived on this planet with no forethought or planning. Everything you have is a gift from God. Nothing you do matters, when it comes to your salvation.

And everything you do matters! The decisions you make each day will affect your quality of life, the health of your family and the fabric of our community. Make choices that are healthy, generous, courteous, graceful, kind, and charitable to your neighbor. Jesus will love you no matter what, but that is not necessarily true for the rest of humanity. What you do matters. How you choose to live your life and how you choose to treat others matters.

God calls us to good works because God cares about people. God calls us to care for the environment because God cares for the trees, oceans, and wildlife. God calls us to patience and kindness because God knows what your neighbor is going through. This is not about heaven, this is not about the next life, this is about the here and now. What kind of a person do you want to be? How do you want to live, and how do you want to be remembered?

In Jesus Christ we have been set free, to live our lives as a response to what God has already done for us. May we respond to God’s love by loving others. May we respond to God’s forgiveness by forgiving others. Remember, nothing we do matters and everything we do matters.

One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread, I am

Pastor Jim

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