We all need grace and God gives it to us in abundance through His Son, Jesus. Our would is filled with to-do lists and performance-based acceptance. Not with God. "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). We invite you to rest in the grace of Jesus by listening to these weekly messages from St. John's Lutheran Church in Williston Park, NY.
But Not Otherwise
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17). You can hang your hat on these verses. Jesus has not come to condemn you; He has come to save you! God's not keeping score, and He's closed His accounting books. Your good works won't get you into heaven, and your sin won't keep you out. You get in free for nothing because of Jesus. Now, we live by faith in Him.
You Can't Lose!
The Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) is not a narrative that's detached from our lives. Jesus is standing in our place in the wilderness. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has defeated our enemies for good. And because you're baptized into Jesus, His victory is yours. You can't lose! Whenever you feel like the enemy is winning, make sure to check the scoreboard.
Where to Set up Camp
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain with him, and there, Jesus was transfigured before them. Moses and Elijah even appeared and spoke with Him. Peter, though terrified, recognized that this was a good moment, and wanted to set up camp, but Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen and heard until after He had risen from the dead. Why keep the transfiguration a secret? Why not "set up camp" here in this moment? Because Jesus' glory is revealed on the cross. We don't get the God of the transfiguration without the God of the cross. We "set up camp" at the cross and the empty tomb.
What does Jesus say about anger? In our Gospel focus from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-26), Jesus addresses the seriousness of anger and insults. The truth is that there is a place for anger, but it belongs to God, not us. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Forgiveness, not anger, is ours. "Be reconciled," Jesus says to us. We are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus and are now free to be reconciled to one another.
You're Not You When You're Hungry
"You are the salt of the earth." "You are the light of the world." Jesus proclaims to us these God-given identities of "salt" and "light" in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16). We are who we are by God's grace, and our identity has a purpose that impacts the world around us. We see the importance of salt and light in their relationship to other things. Likewise, we do not live for ourselves. Having been satisfied by Jesus, we are free to love and serve others.
Depart in Peace (And Joy)!
God had promised a man named Simeon that he would not die until He had seen the Savior. One day, in the Temple at Jerusalem, God kept His promise to him. While holding the baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon spoke those familiar words, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word" (Luke 2:29). These words challenge us to see how we define peace and joy in our lives. These gifts are not found in the removal of burdens but Jesus.