Not Perfect. Just Forgiven.

September 14, 2011
by Pastor Glenn
1 Comment

Why would God forgive a murderer?

God our Father is generous, abounding in blessings, overflowing with love, and sharing of all good things with us that He might save us to live in His eternal Kingdom.
Jesus told the disciples about a vineyard owner who hired workers at different hours of the day (Matthew 20:1-16 ESV). When it was time to pay them, he gave each the same pay. Now, one who had come to work early expected to get more than the last hired. But, the owner replied, “’Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius [a day’s pay]? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ [And Jesus noted:] “So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Sometimes I run across a person who has been an unrepentant sinner his whole life but shortly before dying, he hears the Gospel and converts to faith. I have had people say, “It is not fair that he is in heaven. You don’t know how bad he was.” But, the point Jesus is making in Matthew 20 is not how bad the last worker was and how little he did for the kingdom, but how good God is and how He has made the man new in Christ. God is generous beyond belief. His loving kindness endures forever. The Bible tells us that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
The person who begrudges God’s right to save people (even murders, child molesters and terrorists) does not understand the meaning of grace and its purpose to save sinners of all kinds who hear the Gospel and repent. On the other hand, I sometimes hear at funerals that such-and-such certainly earned a place in heaven by his good works. That is dangerous talk. If someone thinks he earned a place in heaven, the likelihood is that he is not going there. Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first last.”
The greatest in the kingdom is the “last,” the person who knows that he is most needful of grace and mercy from God. He loves much, because he knows that he has been forgiven much. “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner!” Amen.

August 26, 2011
by Pastor Glenn
1 Comment

Why Does God Say: Love Your Enemies?

Saint Paul instructs us to do good things for our enemies so that they may be won over by our good deeds (Romans 12:9-21 ESV): “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’  To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Perhaps you have heard the story of the woman who had a horrible mother-in-law.  Every time the mother-in-law did something evil, the woman baked her a cake.  Eventually the mother-in-law developed diabetes and died.  Well, perhaps that is not exactly what Saint Paul had in mind.

But, Jesus calls us to love our enemies, win them over by our actions, so that we may show ourselves to be true sons of the Father and receive a reward in heaven (Matthew 5:43-48).  Disciples are to be humble followers of Christ.  He bore the cross of our sin, guilt and shame to win our freedom from eternal condemnation.  And, He calls us to carry our own crosses of serving others to glorify His name and expand His kingdom.

When we do good things for those who hurt us, we may well win them over.  How many times have you seen a student act out at school or a fellow employee react in anger and later find out what was really behind their actions?  They were undoubtedly having trouble dealing with problems in their lives.  Something was going wrong and you became the focus of their rage.  It is at that precise moment that you need to show them the love of Jesus Christ.  Ask them questions. Take time to listen to the issue that is behind their behavior. Express your concern for them and desire to help.

Saint Paul reminds us that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).  And, what changes people is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  People often learn about that Gospel by seeing it in action in our lives.  And, if after repeatedly praying and showing your enemy the love of Christ, he persists, do not worry.  God will deal with him some day.

So, go ahead.  Do good deeds for your enemies.  Share the good news of Jesus Christ.  Bake that mother-in-law a cake or perhaps fix her a nice salad.  Amen.