One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
2 Corinthians 4:15
Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Words of Grace For Today
We all sin.
That is a given.
God works to save us from our sin. There is no greater work of God than to save one person from sin.
These mighty acts God repeats innumerable times each day for each person. And each person that acknowledges this, who confesses those sins that are already forgiven, receives an overwhelming flood of gratitude.
There, into the cesspool of Hell, with it’s never ending fires, the stink, and the selfishness astounding even the most seasoned resident, each of us would quickly and permanently slide, if it were not for the Grace bought and paid for by Jesus on the Cross for all of us. See that terrible car crash where a truck T-boned the car mere feet in front of you. You live. They die. If one is not caught by survivor’s guilt, or perhaps even so, one celebrates life. Floods of gratitude and appreciation for all that life is, flow over one until one feels drowned back to life by life’s goodness. One makes calls and mends fences long broken. One re-organizes one’s priorities. One gives genuine thanks for life.
When one realizes the hell Jesus saves one from, a hell one clearly deserves, then one is more thankful than ever before in life.
Sin, Grace, Gratitude, for more and more people. For Christ forgives us and gives us new life so that we can share Jesus’ old, old story with more and more people.
Love the Lord, all you his saints. The Lord preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
As [Jesus was] leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet …. Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’
Words of Grace For Today
Last evening a big greyish pickup truck, a deep-throated, noisey Dodge Ram, with flood lights on a roll bar, two burly men riding in the bed, and a beefy grill guard on the front came prowling the dirt lanes, round and round as if looking for someone and not finding their target. An intentional threat to someone, either as a threatening show of force, or an actual hit. Apparently I am not the only one with an ex who is not above breaking or bending the law to end someone’s life.
How can one respond with Grace?
It is easy of course to respond not with grace but with a wish to physically end the threat of violence with greater violence. Pre-emptive revenge. So goes the world. Today one sees the crumbling of the social contract we live inside of, and the breaks in the thin veneer of civilization that we take for granted. Covid 19 stresses us, stresses the social contract, and the social contract starts to crumble.
How is one to respond with Grace and Honour?
The others certainly are beyond that. They act with blatant disregard for truth, rightness, goodness, and preservation of the social contract which serves them as well.
Jesus lived in the social contract of the Roman Empire, which contract was imposed and maintained by force in many foreign lands which were then included in the Roman Empire.
Jesus lives in this contract, giving to Caesar what was due Caesar. Jesus teaches not revolution, but bending down to notice those left on the wayside by the progression of the empire. Jesus hears a nobody, a blind beggar, sitting on side of the road calling to him to have mercy. Everyone else tells the man to be quiet, that Jesus has no time for him. Jesus stops, though, and calls Bart to him, and shows him the greatest mercy possible: he forgives him his sins. And oh, Jesus also gives him sight. Bart can see for the first time.
Jesus does this for all of us. If only we dare see. God’s love, poured without end or restraint over us, is impossible to ignore. Once blind and wretched sinners, we see and can respond. Like Bart we can follow Jesus and love God with all our hearts, minds and strength. We can imitate Jesus, and bend down to see, heal and forgive all those the world has left in the dust.
We can entrust those threatening vulnerable people to God’s care, which may be Grace and new life, or God may give the haughty their due.
Either way, we are Christ’s. We stand by the vulnerable to protect them, even if it means it costs us our lives.
Covid 19’s huge stress on each of us and on the social contract does not make us into violent, vicious animals that we were not before. The stresses of life do not make us different. They show to others more clearly who we have been all along. Let us pray that we have learned how to be who Jesus makes us to be: following his Way of Grace and the Cross.
As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
Law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Words of Grace For Today
Look at the news of this world. People play stupid games, lying to the media, trying to turn what was not into something that supposedly was. Or they try to turn what was into something that was not. This ‘spin’, or clearly named, these blatant lies, have an immense destructive effect on us all. At the core of it all, truth is sacrificed over and over again to gain someone’s unfair advantage. Those lies always come back to bite their authors and adherents.
It is too easy to condemn those who play those games. How can they get away with the lies? What is wrong with people that they do this?
Closer to home, there are people who make such bald-faced lies, for their own advantage, sacrificing even their faith communities, in order to gain some empty advantage. How can people think they get away with these lies? How can others who participate in the lies justify what they do? Do they think that God does not see what they do? Do they think they are somehow exempt from their own judgment day before Jesus?
At home, we each live lies, little lies, sometimes big lies, with each other. We say it is to get along. We say it is necessary to keep the peace. We rationalize, justify, and hold ourselves to be correct, even when we know we are guilty as guilty can be.
I, of course, do no such thing. I am better than all that. And you either laugh at that false, self-righteous, self-justifying statement, knowing you wish it were so for yourself, or you quickly jump to judge me for lying about my lying. Layers upon layers pile up of us judging others in order to justify ourselves. There is no end, and like the Romans, under threat from others’ evil deeds we turn to more evil deeds ourselves, we ‘hire assassins’ to eliminate our enemies, until our ‘assassins are hired’ to eliminate us, and then those who ‘hired the assassins’ are eliminated, until only ‘the assassins’ are left to run everything, and when the ‘Goths attack’ there is no one to adequately defend our ‘Rome’, and we and it fall, and fall hard we do, into the dust of history that barely remembers our names or reality, either the truth of who we were or the lies we created to make ourselves into something we never were.
How can God save us from this vicious cycle of deception, scheming, lies and self-destruction?
God removes our sins from us, ‘as far as the east is from the west’. Since we understand that east and west meet on the other side of the planet, today’s image is: as far as one end of the universe is from the other (no ‘worm holes’ or time-space folds or faster than light travel allowed.)
The clarity of how bad we all are, clear and fair judgment on us all, and condemnation of us all is brought by the Law. The Law arrives and appears to increase our sins, though it only makes clear how corrupt we all are even before the Law. The weight of our sins in clear view overwhelms reality and drags us all down into the pit of hell.
Except or DOCH
God is not done with us. God brings the Law to make us all aware how hopeless we all are. Then God sent Jesus to give us his story, of love and grace, which even death cannot defeat. Jesus replaces our sins with his perfect record, again and again as we continue to sin. God does this without demand. God only tells us the old, old story of Jesus and his love. With that story God sets us free from the burden of our sins.
The more the Law clarifies and makes obvious our sins, Grace abounds even more, to set us free.
We are not absolutely free. We are free from our sins. We then can choose (again and again as Grace answers our sins again and again with forgiveness) to whom we will be slaves: to our own sinful will, owned by the Evil One, the Devil, OR we can choose to respond to Grace, by being slaves to Jesus’ will for us.
God created us to be able to choose, to choose to be slaves to Jesus, and therein to sacrifice everything we could or would claim as our own rights. We sacrifice, as Jesus did, in order that others will know God’s Grace is for them! God created us, precisely so that we could do this with every opportunity life provides to us.
Without sin burdening us, with the Holy Spirit guiding and enabling us, with Jesus’ example before us, and with God’s love overwhelming us, we can miraculously (by God’s power) actually choose and follow through with thoughts, words and deeds that allow God’s Grace to flow through us to others.
And sin has no bite in us anymore.
Such is Grace.
Until the next moment we must choose, and we choose to pretend, that of course it is not so with me, I am free from sin. And by that lie we enslave ourselves to sin once again, and God starts all over with us … and again God starts all over with us … and again God starts all over with us. God never abandons us, not even as Covid 19 increase the stress and challenges and our sins increase moment by moment. God never abandons us and God’s Grace overwhelms us.
I will look with favour upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you.
In [Jesus] we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Words of Grace For Today
Once we have practised, that we are saved by Grace alone (not by our own efforts) then we are ready to understand what our own efforts are: they are responses to God’s Grace, and always should strive to extend that same Grace to others, even our enemies.
It is odd then to read Joel writing: I will maintain my covenant with you. God makes a covenant with us. It is unlike other covenants (contracts). It is one sided: God promises to do for us, God does for us, God does not demand anything from us in return. God does not look from the covenant to us to respond. God’s promises give us life and a model for how God created us to live in creation. That’s God’s part. There is nothing like us maintaining our part of the covenant. That is a return to the false pride that drives us to try to be godlets, as if we could.
That does not mean we have nothing. We have everything by Grace through faith in God. That includes a boldness and confidence.
We can boldly step up to extend Grace to others.
In the face of enemies that deride and seek to destroy us, we have confidence that self-sacrificial love is God’s way and therefore our way to sure victory: love will win and evil will lose, hate will dissolve, riches, power, and reputations gained wrongly will evaporate, and those who have lived out God’s Grace for others will already have their reward in that they have an abundant life. Extending God’s Grace to others is the sufficient requirement for an abundant life and defines what an abundant life is. Love as Grace is everything.
Through faith in Jesus we have a boldness and confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit guiding us each day to seek out, enjoy, and share God’s blessings.
Give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God.
Words of Grace For Today
Understanding to learn God’s commandments is a child’s first step in following Jesus. Next the difficult part comes in following the commandments. The ten commandments are a beginning to what following Jesus’ commandments (to love God, self, others and even ones’ enemies) are all about.
Love is a life long challenge that is worth every bit of energy and time we put into it.
We are only able to follow through because God promises to love us, accept us, forgive us, and set us on a path to follow the Holy Spirit guiding us to do God’s will.
God’s promises are always Yes to life according to God’s will.
Trusting God we can put an amen ready on our lips for every occasion.
Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:3
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
Words of Grace For Today
What is it that we do, in order to try to hide in secret places from God?
We try to be little ‘godlets’, masters of our lives and of others. Sometimes it even looks like we succeed. The delusion required to make it look like we succeed is fascinatingly stupid.
God is with us always, not tagging along, but we are in God’s omnipresence wherever we go. God sees our foolish pretending to be masters of most anything. Ah, how painful that must be for God.
We all sin. Most often it seems people try to pretend that their sin is something else, or that someone else did their sin and that they did not do it, or that they really did not do that evil thing, but something else that only appears to look like sin. The cover up is worse than the sin.
We ALL sin. The only way forward to goodness is not to pretend at all. Certainly we cannot move forward to health if we pretend that we know enough to talk, manipulate or manoeuvre our way out of the sin we’ve done.
The only way forward towards an abundant life is to already trust that God will forgive us, freely, without cost to us. To trust that the price for our sins (every last one of them) is already paid for by Jesus’ death. To trust that the loss of God’s own life is recouped in the resurrection. With that trust (that only the Holy Spirit can give to us – but which we certainly can refuse) then we can face God, deserving condemnation and knowing that we will be forgiven. Not just that our past sin is wiped away. We also have our future life renewed, so that hope is real. So that our expectations can be for a good future for us, for our loved ones, for God’s people around us, and for the strangers among us on this planet earth – so that we can expect (and thereby help bring to be) good things to happen.
It is no less than being told our lives are over … and then we hear that miraculously we are healthy and will live. Or it is to know that everything good we have worked for and been and become will be taken from us (not possessions, but our selves). We anticipate with horror living as mere shells, having the innermost things that make up who we are ripped out of us and shredded away to dust and water. Then we discover that, though our expectations were accurate, by some inexplicable change in history and current events, we are left intact, whole and looking forward to living a full life for years to come.
How different it is for people like the church council who have breached their own constitution and legal process to falsify a vote to hire a man who is not qualified to be a pastor. What kind of guts and prideful foolishness does that take? What kind of innermost self are those people made up of that they brashly contravene their own constitution, and work to deceive and lie and cover up what they are doing? To be them must be terrible!
For to be them is as terrible as it is to be any and every other kind of sinner who cannot find forgiveness in the ‘godlets’ they have perversely begun to worship.
Catching Covid 19, whether one barely has symptoms, one suffers symptoms and recovers (either with chronic issues afterwards or not), or whether one succumbs into death (and still have the promise of life eternal) is not as bad as losing one’s self, that spirit that God has breathed into us at our baptisms, which gives us life. That is a horror that never stops no matter what one stuffs into one’s life.
With profound gratitude, even as we are caught in the snare of the Evil One, we trust that we will find our way forward to goodness and health, but only through God’s unending Grace, forgiveness and the gift of renewed life.
‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Words of Grace For Today
There is simply no command in all the universe that will stop someone from worrying.
To stop worrying can be pretty futile, even for us to try to move ourselves away from worry to another attitude, or waiting, or dreading, or enduring to some kind of an attitude not associated with worry or concern or anxiety.
The only possibility for worry, anxiety, concern, or dread to end is if we have our attitude about life adjusted.
God’s face can surely adjust our attitude. One would think at first to greater and greater anxiety, unless or until one recognizes the promise provided to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. God could justifiably smite us out of the universe as if we never existed with a word.
God doesn’t. God instead takes all the time, effort and heartache (even grief) of being born as one of us, living, teaching, and healing, all so that we might notice God’s love for us. And since that cannot make up for our sins, Jesus sacrificed himself on a cross to remove sins from us on to himself. He died because of our sins. Then he was resurrected, and promises that we are resurrected with him.
That is a huge step away from the smite key installed on a control keyboard, a key that could be used quite often to end strife and conflict. Instead God promises to be with us always. Therefore we can sing Hallelujah always, Anyhow, no matter what.
What can we do to readjust our attitudes to remember God’s Grace for us: turn our concerns and worries into prayers for the God almighty to deal with. Seek a face to face with God.
Zoom during Covid 19 is only a foretaste of what face to face with God is like.
I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
Words of Grace For Today
What roadblocks and earth-movers does the Devil and all his wiles, deceptions, and destruction threaten us with today?
Shall we be moved to join these forces pushing us and so many people up against the rock hard wall?
We pray to the Lord, as promised, may the Holy Spirit guides us, waling right beside us, left beside us, behind us, in front of us, under us and over us. Keep us surrounded so the earth-movers and rock hard places the Devil creates will not be able to distract us from the harvest work Jesus has sent us on all these years. Do not let the Devil’s power, which can eliminate planets and stars in a moment, detract from the greatest power of the Universe that guides us each moment, the power of self-sacrificial love graciously shared with all people.
Help us, to leave behind us the ground that we have gone over and prepared for the seed of God’s Kingdom. It is your soil, your harvest, and yours to bless or not as you choose, God.
Guide us, looking forward to the reward that is ours already and yet not yet.
Save us from drunken, stupid gatherings where not only is God denied but the reality of the Devil is ignored, as if Covid 19 does not kill people, innocent people of all ages, in all places.
Singing together we face the injustices of the people who serve the Devil, even as they pretend to call on Jesus’ name:
Set us free from this evil tyranny, set us free today. But your will be done Lord. All that we are and have is from you. We are your servants, from you we have our very breath.
Let no evil person, nor a devilish virus, take that from us!
There is no photo of justice observed and righteousness done at all times.
It cannot exist, except by GRACE
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
1 John 2:17
The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
Words of Grace For Today
The way the world teaches it’s children to live is not to observe justice and do righteousness – just do not get caught.
The desires that fuel that kind of thinking are endless, in number and because of our inability to satisfy them. Our living experience of them is that they continue, as sure as the rock under our feet as we stand on a high crested mountain west of Edmonton.
Yet from God’s perspective that rocky mountain is a fleeting feature of earth, along with us living on it, and the entire planet as it spins around the star we call our sun will soon pass into oblivion.
The question for us all is how do we live in this fleeting moment, that lasts generation upon generation for us.
Observing Justice and doing righteousness at all times.
First that is impossible, a dream for some, and for all of us mostly wishful thinking.
We are saved by Grace alone. None of us are able to do other than sin, and we wretched sinners can only hope that Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection will save us, for there is no other hope for us.
So as long as we live, if we can always observe justice and do righteousness at all times, then we will be happy.
Since we cannot do that, is it true that we will never be happy?
I’d hope not, but …
… now is the moment when one needs to have prayed and trusted God, and paid a little attention in Confirmation Class.
We can be happy, because even though we cannot observe justice nor be righteous all the time, Jesus steps in for us, sets his record in place of our own.
Not on our own, but transformed by the Grace of God into saints, we can be happy, not just merely happy, but the happiest that we can ever be.
Able to observe justice and do righteousness always, only because Jesus steps in for us, the guarantee that we will be counted to have done exactly that cannot be more sure.
Happy hardly begins to describe how grateful we can be, relieved that we need not count on our own abilities, and exhilarated that life for us is wonderfully blessed by God.
Happy are we who have God doing justice, and observing righteousness, for us, for our record.
No matter our sins, as we trust God, we can join the many people who for so long have learned even amidst great grief to Sing Hallelujah Anyhow.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Words of Grace For Today
Dandelions spring up everywhere, showing their pretty yellow faces. Their beauty is often appreciated by children who pick them as bouquets for their mothers or fathers. Their potential is realized by those who dare make wine of them.
Otherwise they are a foreign species with not enough natural deterrents, so that they overwhelm any piece of ground they grow in and they become an infestation that is difficult to remove without actions approaching ‘scorched earth’ results.
There is enough evil evident in the police. The real root is in the courts, which allow the tactics of the police to go unchecked. It is a pervasive hatred, a racism, a bigotry, a bias that can exist only as it is supported by the courts. The courts uphold this attitude in the practice of law and prosecution, which upholds this attitude in the police from top to bottom: it is an attitude of zero-sum thinking. If we are not holding the hoards in check they will take everything we have from us. It is the wealthy protecting themselves and the courts protecting the wealthy.
Against this powerful and destructive evil, God brings us, like dandelions, those that bear righteousness into this world where righteousness is so foreign an idea (except to be beaten down) yet alone a thing to comprehend, realize or nurture.
In the grass of God’s good creation, the dandelions of righteousness are not an invasive species out of their natural ecosystem.
God’s righteousness is the proper species of every part of creation, which always behaves in those areas where evil has flourished, as an invader, a conqueror, a re-claimer of life back to it’s creator.
We pray, may we choose today, no matter the challenges, risk or sure loss to ourselves, that we would be the agents, supporters, and advocates of God’s righteousness.
Covid 19 is real, really deadly to some, pervasively spread before the carrier is symptomatic; but Covid 19 is only a small attention-getter and warning, compared to God’s Word of righteousness that awaits us all. Be safe. Act wisely. Protect others,
from Covid 19 which can kill or maim the body, but even more so from the Evil that kills the soul, the light, the awareness of God’s Good Creation all around us, and therewith our hope of responding well to God’s awesome Grace.