March 14, 2021: 4th Sunday in Lent

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for working out our eternal salvation and giving that priceless gift to us via faith.  Thank You for the blessed gift of grace which permeates our lives from beginning to end—from baptism to our grace-filled entrance into glory!  May we never tire of hearing the truths of grace or take them for granted.  Amen


TEXT:  Ephesians 2: 4-12

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Number 1 on the favorite desert menu is: chocolate!  And if you don’t like chocolate, I pity you.  It doesn’t matter whether it is dark, milk, or semi-sweet chocolate.  They are all very tasty and even addictive.  Although, we should note that dark chocolate has the most heart-healthy compounds.  I rarely buy, or am given, a box of chocolates.  I usually just go directly to a really good bar or chips.  But when confronted with a box of mixed chocolates  it’s hard to choose where to start because they’re all tasty.  That’s the way I feel about the lesson before us.  It’s all about God’s grace.  And every aspect of God’s grace brings unbridled delight!


          By way of review, grace is defined as: God’s undeserved love for us in Christ.  Christ and His working out our salvation with His sacrificial life, death and then resurrection is both the foundation and the edifice of grace.  From beginning to end, a Christian’s life is supported by grace. 

          Paul begins by saying: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

          All humans are born with a reciprocity gene.  That is, “you do for me, I do for you.”  Or, conversely, “unless you give to me, I won’t give to you.”  So, on your own, what can you give to God; what DO you give to God, which is perfect, holy, and selfless?  Nothing.  Quite the opposite.  Do you always thank God for His goodness, even when you get sick?  Do you always thank God when you’re laid off from work, or when a forgotten bill arrives?  Do you thank Him for friends, even after they disappoint you and let you down?  Or, do you get angry over such things and lash out in anger or plot pay-backs? 

          This last week in confirmation class we were discussing the blessings of baptism.  I made the point that we can and do destroy human love-built relationships.  We can and do quit loving others unless they feed our ego.  But God never does!  Nothing can destroy His love for us in Christ.  That’s right.  Nothing.  He loves us in spite of how we treat Him.  He waits patiently for us to come to our senses and repent.  And then, as in the Prodigal son, He welcomes us back with a warm embrace.  That is because He loves us unconditionally in Jesus.  It’s all about grace!  Since nothing can destroy or diminish His love for Christ, nothing can block His love for those for whom Christ died and extended His grace.  Yes, grace ‘tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear!  Grace is God’s essential nature.


          What are the results of God’s grace?  “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

          A huge difference between us and God is that we complain a lot and He never does!  Being ungrateful and unhappy is a result of sin.  It is forgetting who we are and how we have been eternally blest and saved—by grace alone!  And when we remember that truth, grace turns us around and changes our outlook on life.  We see everything as a part of God’s plan for us.  And we see His kindness even in often overlooked events.  Moreover, if you still don’t yet feel uplifted by it, grace makes sure that you will.  For armed with grace, God takes care of everything in the end.  “All things work together for good to those who love God.”


          Grace brings true and lasting comfort to all believers.  For God does everything (perfectly) and we do nothing except say: “Thank You dear Lord!”  Grace is the total package when it comes to our salvation.  Paul addresses this aspect of grace, too: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

          Before God created the universe, He knew all about you.  He knew you would need His help and salvation.  He knew you’d need His comfort in the face of evil which sought to spoil God’s perfection.  So, God worked out, in advance, our soul’s salvation in and through and by Jesus Christ.  His love for us in Christ is grace in action, isn’t it?  And now  your acting upon that grace has given birth of countless, little and big, good works.  Works which honor Him and give Him glory, thus gladdening His huge heart.  That’s the meaning behind: “we are God’s workmanship.”  So, our lives begin with God alone and will end with God alone.  Which, of course, means that in Christ Godly perfection is ours.  So, the circle of life is thereby complete: we possess never-ending comfort and joy and purpose all because of grace!

          The old Lutherans often ended their sermons or writings on Scripture with a Latin phrase: Soli Deo Gloria!  Or, to God alone be the glory.  And it’s true because grace makes it possible.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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