April 27, 2015

Interrupted by Grace 2015: Sinner, Come Home

I'm blogging daily in April. Learn more about the series here.

Good morning!  This is the last Monday of this year's interrupted by grace series.  The month has flown by.  I can hardly believe it.  Remember to get your name in for your chance(s) to win the giveaway before lat Wednesday.  We'll pick a winner on Thursday morning!  I've reposted the details at the end of today's post.

On Saturday morning I was in Luke 18 and was struck, as usual, by the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner. 
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I love the simple prayer of the tax collector.  God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  He knows that before  the Almighty, Holy, Righteous, Creator, God of all things, he is nothing a sinner.  He brings nothing to the table in his own defense.  He knows that without mercy from God, he cannot be in His presence.  Thank you, Jesus, for the story with a message that reminds us that God does have mercy on sinners!

You can't miss being interrupted by grace when that's the whole point of the story!  Humbling ourselves before God, acknowledging that mercy and grace can be the only basis for  our relationship with Him, and these things coming from Him, is what justifies us before Him.  Neither announcing our good deeds and proclaiming how they out-weigh the bad nor explaining to God how much better we are in comparison to another will save us.  No.  Getting on our knees and confessing that we are sinners in need of mercy from the God we daily offend, THAT is the road to justification before out God.  THAT is the simple path to a life-changing relationship with him.

Jesus came for sinners.  He said so Himself:
But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  Luke 5:30-32

The truth is that we are all "the sick," sinners who need to be called to repentance.  Repentance: to do an about face and start running to God away from sin, rather than continuing doing it the other way around.

The point of Jesus' parable was driven home yesterday when I walked back into the sanctuary after taking Katherine to the nursery.  The worship team was singing these words as the offertory:

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home! 

I love that last line and wrote it really big at the top of my bulletin: Calling, O sinner, come home!  Have you never believed?  Jesus is calling you, sinner.  Repent! Come home to Him!  Have you believed for years and years and you're feeling bad about something that happened recently?  Jesus is calling you, sinner.  Repent!  Come home to Him!  Are you a Christian who can't seem to shake some habitual sin?  Jesus is calling you, sinner.  Repent!  Come home to Him!

Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling.
Calling for you and for me.

Won't you come home to Him?

*     *     *

The Giveaway!

At the end of each monthly series, I love to give away a couple of treats.  Seems to me like a good way to wrap it up!  Next Thursday, I will announce the winners of these tasty local treats:

A bag of Colombian coffee beans roasted by Commonplace Coffee.
Three Gardner's chocolate bars: PB Meletaway, Salted Pretzel and Creamy Caramel.

How can you enter?  Glad you asked.  Here are some ways to get your name in the running one or more times:
  1. Leave an "I'm in!" comment on a post between now and next Wednesday, April 29 before midnight EST.
  2. 'Like' my Facebook page.  Here's a link!  (If you're already a fan there, that counts for an entry.)
  3. Share a link to Life in the Valley or the Life in the Valley Facebook page on your page.  Or if you don't have Facebook, share Life in the Valley with a friend in another way.
  4. Share your own interrupted by grace story in a blog or Facebook comment sometime before the giveaway.
I work on the honor system around here, so just let me know how many times I should put your name in the hat!  Also, if you are not a coffee lover, enter anyway.  Commonplace coffee makes a great regift; any of your coffee-loving friends will be glad to take it off your hands, and you still get to keep the chocolate!

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