“In God’s Eyes” Matthew 20:1-16

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:1-16

 

To our human minds, Jesus makes little sense.  We make contracts. We have job descriptions that indicate very specifically what we are to do, and how we are to be paid. And if we work overtime or are called to something above and beyond, the expectation is additional payment for services rendered.  The more time one gives to the job, then the more recognition is given and in some cases tenure is offered so the position is permanent.  When Jesus describes the Kingdom of God, suddenly our ideas of workplace fairness are turned on their head.  In the parable of the “Laborers in the Vineyard,” Jesus describes God as one who simply celebrates those who respond to the call to be transformed and does not base a seat in Heaven on years served or duties performed.  No matter how long or short the list of good deeds and no matter how long one has lived on earth celebrating Jesus, all are welcome to the Kingdom.  In God’s eyes, we are all equals.  By God’s grace and mercy, everyone who turns back to God and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior is welcomed.  Like Jesus affirmed to Martha when she asked Jesus about her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die,” (John 11:25, 26) all are welcome who live and believe, no matter when they turn back to God.  It is all about grace, all about Jesus.  God’s grace may sound a bit strange at times, but it is an incredible gift offered by an amazing God.  In God’s eyes, you are amazing and loved more than you will ever know. Thank you Jesus for the gift of everlasting life.

Pastor Tom

Mercy Luke 15:25-32

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”

Luke 15:32

 

The kingdom of God is a strange world to be sure.  It is a lifestyle not of condemnation but of commendation. It is a life-view that sees hope even in the most hopeless and new life offered to those that do not seem to deserve a second, let alone third chance.  Our humanity doesn’t react well to folks that appear to have turned their life around.  In fact, we often times see those lives trying to hide their true nature, plotting to return to the life they once embraced.  Somehow we may even think we are superior since we did not live such decadent lives.  So along comes Jesus who offers a new thing, a whole different way to see the world which actually encourages and celebrates relationships with people who may in our opinion have a sullied past or even a different way of seeing the world.  Jesus proclaimed that, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)  In other words, Jesus offers hope and renewal even to those that we feel are undeserving.  The heavens celebrate those who have turned their lives around. Maybe God is waiting for us to see people a bit differently as well.  Maybe Jesus was sent by God to offer us an alternative way to base our opinions of others as well as to offer the “way the truth, and the life.”  When the basis of our lives is Jesus the Christ and not ourselves, we will “know the truth and the truth will make [us] free.” (John 8:32)  Offering grace and mercy is not an option, it is a lifestyle; it is accepting the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the message of hope even to the most lost.  Nobody is too dirty for Jesus to clean up; that is the celebration, and that is our hope as well.  Bottom line is that we are all in the same boat and just as grace and mercy is offered to us, it is offered to all.  The joy, and the challenge, is in the acceptance of the gift.  Thank you Jesus for another chance to get it right.

Pastor Tom

Mercy Luke 15:25-32

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”

Luke 15:32

 

The kingdom of God is a strange world to be sure.  It is a lifestyle not of condemnation but of commendation. It is a life-view that sees hope even in the most hopeless and new life offered to those that do not seem to deserve a second, let alone third chance.  Our humanity doesn’t react well to folks that appear to have turned their life around.  In fact, we often times see those lives trying to hide their true nature, plotting to return to the life they once embraced.  Somehow we may even think we are superior since we did not live such decadent lives.  So along comes Jesus who offers a new thing, a whole different way to see the world which actually encourages and celebrates relationships with people who may in our opinion have a sullied past or even a different way of seeing the world.  Jesus proclaimed that, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)  In other words, Jesus offers hope and renewal even to those that we feel are undeserving.  The heavens celebrate those who have turned their lives around. Maybe God is waiting for us to see people a bit differently as well.  Maybe Jesus was sent by God to offer us an alternative way to base our opinions of others as well as to offer the “way the truth, and the life.”  When the basis of our lives is Jesus the Christ and not ourselves, we will “know the truth and the truth will make [us] free.” (John 8:32)  Offering grace and mercy is not an option, it is a lifestyle; it is accepting the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the message of hope even to the most lost.  Nobody is too dirty for Jesus to clean up; that is the celebration, and that is our hope as well.  Bottom line is that we are all in the same boat and just as grace and mercy is offered to us, it is offered to all.  The joy, and the challenge, is in the acceptance of the gift.  Thank you Jesus for another chance to get it right.

Pastor Tom

“Never a Question” Luke 15:11-24

“For this son of mine was dead and alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15:24

 

There are times when the gifts we have received are not fully appreciated until we think they are lost.  The story of the Prodigal Son is a familiar one which tells of a man who took the inheritance that his dad set aside for him even before his father died.  He then squandered all that he was given and realized just how wonderful and valuable the gift was that was freely given.  But here is the even greater gift; when he “came to himself,” he returned home and found his dad running toward him with open arms and tears streaming down his cheeks.  His dad was so consumed by his love for his son that despite what the son had done with the hard-earned inheritance that was given, he was welcomed home.  We have been given an inheritance as well, an inheritance that is freely given but bought with a heavy price.  Sometimes what God has given is squandered just by the busyness of our daily lives.  Chris Tomlin sings, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my king would die for me.”  It is true, Jesus died so we can live again, so we may have another opportunity to celebrate the amazing love that will never let us go. No matter how much we squander the gift, God is reaching out towards us with open arms to celebrate our return.  You are redeemed and forgiven by our loving and gracious God.  Consider all that you have been given by God, and consider the grace that is offered when you have forgotten or take for granted the gift that was given.  Donald Barnhouse wrote that “love that goes upward is worship, love that goes outward is affection, love that stoops is grace.” God is running to you, stooping down to pick you up, clean you up, and is celebrating your return.  Turn back to God, and you will know the love that is eternal, a love that will never let you go.  You are blessed by a gracious and merciful God.  You are loved more than you will ever know.  Celebrate God’s love with every breath.  Thank you Jesus for the gift.

Pastor Tom

“Everybody” Luke 10:25-37

“Go and do likewise”

Luke 10:37

 

It is said that “the devil is in the details.”  The truth is, the more the detail the more we feel lost.  On the other hand, the more the details, the more we can pick and choose which details can be used to suit our own agendas.  So the age-old question is who is my neighbor?  Who is it that I need to talk to, care about, or even consider in my daily walk?  The more the definition of a neighbor is narrowed, the more latitude is offered as to who needs attention and who does not.  Then there is the cry, “we need to take care of our own!”  At this point, Jesus steps in for some clarity.  The question no longer is, “who is defined as my neighbor,” rather it becomes “how are we defined as a neighbor?”  The Christian journey is not about trying to figure out who is worthy or unworthy of our attention; it offering the hand of Christ to someone in need regardless of who they are or what they have done.  The bottom line is that no one deserves God’s mercy but it is offered; that is what grace is all about.  Jesus does not narrowly define who we should be a neighbor to or how we are to be a neighbor to another, he just says, “go and do likewise.”  Go and offer Christ to another.  God, through our living Savior Jesus Christ has offered you grace, mercy, and peace; go and do likewise.  Thank you Jesus for the privilege of serving all for whom you suffered, died, and was resurrected to transform.  So, who is my neighbor?  Everybody.

Pastor Tom