God’s grace is more abundant than we can ever truly grasp and He loves us more than we can comprehend. In Psalm 145:8 David reminds us, The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. No matter how bad things get, God’s grace is what He wants us to experience more than anything else because of His love for us.
Especially in the darkest night light shines the brightest. Psalm 112:4 says, Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. If we concentrate on being a light in this world, it doesn’t matter how dark the world is around us because our light will shine through. Being a light has its challenges, but if we are to be labeled gracious, compassionate, and righteous, then our ability to be a light that shines through really matters.
Sometimes all it really takes is for someone to care. In the parable of the fig tree the owner wanted to cut it down because it would not produce fruit, but the man who took care of the vineyard replied in Luke 13:8-9, 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'” The man did not want to give up on the fig tree and realized all it probably needed was some care and feeding. This is like many people around us who all they may really need is someone who cares enough to invest in them. Who do you know that may need this?
Actions speak louder than words, but words are powerful just the same. Jesus warns in Matthew 12:37, For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. In the end, it all matters because of how we affect and influence others. Maya Angelou once said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” We always want to be a powerful impact on those around us. Let us strive to be powerful AND positive.
When God blesses us, He brings true wealth. This type of wealth is not measured in zeros and multiple commas, but by our ability to live our own lives and in the process help others. Proverbs 10:22 says, The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. Unlike wealth brought for personal gain, wealth is a blessing when we use it to further God’s blessings on others.
I had many thoughts as I read 1 Corinthians 12:27 this morning, Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. First, none of us is more important to the body and community of believers than the other. Even the pastor in your church does not have more importance than you or anyone else. Second, when one part of the body hurts, so does the rest of the body. The body rejoices and hurts as a whole. It is for this reason it is important to work as one unit and lift each other up. There is no room for gossip and petty arguments because it is being done to itself. It’s like having the right hand beat up the left had. In the end, the body is still hurt.
Today we are reading the last chapter in the Gospel of Mark. In this final chapter Jesus rises from the dead and begins to appear before the people including His disciples. One of the most interesting verses is Mark 16:7 where the angel at the tomb tells the women, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’ “ The interesting part is where he says “and Peter”. Despite Peter’s denial, Jesus did not disown him. Jesus still had great plans for Peter. For us, even when we fail, Jesus never stops loving us or wanting to include us in His plans. Jesus does not expect perfection, but a willing heart wanting to serve Him and others.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we tend to focus on the son who takes his inheritance and squanders it, and we pay very little attention to the older son who stayed with the father. At the end of the parable, the older son becomes upset because of all the attention the younger son receives from the father. The father addresses the older son in Luke 15:31-32, 31 ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “ Jesus was referring to the Pharisees in reference to the older son because they were against giving the inheritance of the Jews to the gentiles. But this is why Jesus came in the first place. He came to save all people who believe in Him, not just the Jews. The privilege of the Jews is because the Messiah came through Jewish lineage, not that salvation came exclusively for them.
The same thing applies to us in the modern “church”. Salvation is not exclusive to those who live righteous lives. Nowhere does Jesus say we must be righteous before we become saved. A righteous life does not exist without salvation from Jesus and the Holy Spirit living in our lives. Let us not confuse the sin in someone’s life with God’s ability to cleanse us from all unrighteousness as John wrote in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
When Jesus visited each of these towns, the people flocked to see Him. These people were not only looking to be healed, but they were looking for hope as well. Mark 6:34 says, When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Jesus became their shepherd who was able to teach, guide, and give hope to them. When we need guidance, the only place we need to look is to Jesus. He provides all we could ever need.
When we feel all alone in the middle of the storm, we must always remember Jesus is there right beside us. When the disciples were in the middle of a storm on the lake, they thought they were all alone facing the real possibility of death. But even in the middle of that lake Jesus went to be with them. Matthew 14:27, But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage it is I. Don’t be afraid.” Christ’s presence in our lives is always there. We are never alone and we must always recognize the desire to be with us in all circumstances is His.