Today’s sermon at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church was titled, “The Amazing and Exasperating Grace of God.” I’ve certainly heard God’s grace described as AMAZING before. That’s typical. But, exasperating? When? How?
Do you know the story of the “Workers in the Vineyard”? It’s found in Matthew 20: 1-16. Essentially it tells of a landowner who needed extra workers in his vineyard. He agreed to pay the ones who started picking grapes that morning a silver coin for their day’s labor.
Later, with just an hour left in the work day, he realized the workers needed help to finish the job before sundown, so he hired a bunch more workers to help finish the job. This last bunch were the “left-overs” who had not been hired earlier. We can only imagine why they may have been left behind.
At the end of the day, the ones who came last (and had only worked an hour) were paid first. Each received a silver coin.
The ones who had worked all day saw that – and figured they would get more. They probably expected ten times more, since they had worked a ten hour day. When all they received was the same pay as the ones who worked only the last hour, they complained bitterly.
On that story, Rev. Steve Hundley based his sermon, and I took notes (as I do each Sunday) in poetry as I listened. Here they are:
The Amazing and Exasperating Grace of God
Reading the Word of God daily Helps you discover joy in life; But some difficult passages Cause misunderstanding and strife.
Like the story of the workers Who were paid equal wages Whether they worked one hour Or ten… Imagine the rages!
It’s hard to understand How such treatment is fair. Jesus explained the boss could Pay the wages anyway he cared.
Likewise, those who come lately To the Kingdom of God on earth Will receive the same blessings as Those who served the Lord since birth.
Does this seem a fair idea? Are deathbed conversions real? Maybe some of them are fake, But it’s not up to me or how I feel.
This parable isn’t about the workers. It’s about the generous vineyard boss Who is a symbol of our Gracious God. He focuses on the workers, not the cost.
Our God calls out the left-overs And tells them, “I have room for you.” God’s amazing grace and love are real, And they’re available to all – not just a few.
Load me up, Lord. Haul me to your vineyard. I’m ready to work! Amen.
Have you ever found God’s Amazing Grace to be Exasperating?
Or is there a Bible story that you find difficult to understand? Tell me about it.
Have a Super Sunday. Thanks for visiting JanBeek. See ya tomorrow.
I pray your Palm Sunday has been a day of ~Peace~ειρήνη~Shalom~Love
Virtual Worship Service
We began our Sunday (after taking a nostalgic virtual stroll through Switzerland here on WP) with a virtual worship service. Many of you who are obeying “STAY at HOME” orders probably did the same. Some churches broadcast their service on You.Tube.com and their members were able to feel like they were together on the screen.
Our Pastor Steve Hundley sent by e-mail (as he did last Sunday) the church bulletin complete with songs linked and the prayers and sermon written out. Let me share a few of his words/prayers and a song with you now.
Loving Father, as we journey with Your Son into this Holy Week of remembrance and hope, help us to understand You and Your love for the world more clearly. Help us to call to mind these past events in Jesus’ life so that we can sense their significance for our present lives and for the future You are preparing for all creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sharing the Peace: Call someone who is isolated, discouraged and alone; ask what they might need. Pray with them. (Perhaps you would like to repeat this action throughout the week.)
Loving God, who has brought us once more to this Holy Week in which we remember the ministry and suffering of our Lord, help us now to submerge our own needs and fears in Him and learn of Him.
Show us by the resoluteness with which Christ accomplished Your will how we, too, may live gracefully under the pressure in this uncommon time. As the darkness of these days befalls us, teach us to garner our faith by finding new and creative ways to share our lives in spite of the limitations placed upon us.
Guide us as disease and death taunt us and life is cruelest, and we encounter our own “Calvaries” of the spirit, to respond with love, patience, and compassion.
Merciful God, whose healing power is so evident in the fearless and tireless work of our health care professionals, strengthen them and give them courage and confidence in everything they do. Encourage them when their efforts seem futile or when death prevails. Increase their trust in Your power to overcome the risk of their own health, pain, and even death.
Lord Jesus, as You made Your way into Jerusalem, so make Your way into our individual isolation, into our homes, into our rooms, into our hearts, and into our lives. Oh Lord, make us aware that this world crisis we find ourselves in only affirms with great intensity our need for Your saving grace.
Lord, we pray for the most vulnerable among us. Lord, heal those who are already sick, and comfort those who are grieving the unexpected loss of a loved one. Lord, we lift up each one who has been robbed of their employment, their financial security, their sense of peace, if not their health, during this pandemic. Give hope and light to hold on to until the light flows back at the end of this dark tunnel.
… for you cannot go where God is not.
Go with noble purpose,
and God will give meaning to Your days.
Go in love, for it alone endures.
Go in peace, for it is the gift of God
to those whose hearts and minds
are in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May God’s Peace go with you this day and always. Bee well, my friends. See ya tomorrow.
I wrote this post back in February of 2012 as a new blogger. I decided today would be a good day to revive and update it, because it is as pertinent today (maybe even more pertinent) as it was eight years ago!
Work at Loving!
Like you, I want to be more kind, more loving, more at peace. In giving, we receive. Kindness is reciprocal. Peace of mind is a gift to those who live in the fullness of LOVE. But, in a world full of hate and devisiveness, illnesses like depression and the current Corona Virus, we have to work at loving and finding peace!
Very few of us have the privilege of finding a spot like this one where we can sit quietly at the top of a peaceful place and just breathe the clear air slowly.
Where can we find peace in the midst of our bustling real world?
Work to Find Time to Know Him
I schedule TIME each morning to be with the Holy Spirit. In my quiet meditation time that morning back in 2012, I stumbled upon 2Peter 1:2-7. The question that starts that scripture caught my heart. “Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace?”
I was reading the Living Bible, paraphrased – a large print copy that used to belong to my father-in-law. Gratefully, I inherited it when he passed on to his eternal home. This passage was underlined. Grandpa Beekman had double-underlined the next sentence, “Then learn to know Him better and better.”
Meditation and Study Time
My sanctuary time each morning is all aboutgetting to know Him better, and listening for His still small voice. As I study God’s Word, and get to know Him better, there are many benefits. The rest of this passage spells them out – and I easily connected the idea of “increased faith” with the reality of “increased love.” But there is a long pathway that leads to increased love (which equates to more of God’s kindness and peace). It takes plain old good, hard work!
2Peter 1:3 “For as you know Him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: He even shares His own glory and His own goodness with us!”
Study to Know His Goodness and His Promises
I have added the capitals to “His.” The Bible doesn’t capitalize it. For me, the word requires a capital case letter when the him/his is not just any old him or his, but the One HIM, our Lord and Savior, God. So, when I share in His glory and goodness, it is special indeed! The scripture doesn’t stop there, though.
2Peter 1, Verse 4- “And by that same mighty power, He has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings He promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us His own character.”
Wow! What a promise!! How can I attain such blessings? Some would say it is totally by His grace. I don’t have to DO anything. Just because I BELIEVE I am His “chosen,” I will receive all these blessings. Well, not according to 2Peter 1: 5-7. Read on!
Work at Increased Faith
“BUT, to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough. For then you must learn to know God better and discover what He wants you to do.”
(That’s always a trick to discern what He wants me to do!)
With Patience, Put Aside Your Own Desires
“Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you.”
I am reminded of my oldest grandson, Mikey. He’s now 28, but when he was barely able to pull himself up by his mother’s apron strings and stand knee-high next to her, he would tug on that apron as she warmed his bottle in hot water on the stove. Sure he was starving to death, he would cry, “Paaaay-shuns! Paaaay-shuns!”
(Ah yes, we long for paaay-shuns even as we are barely able to verbalize a sentence!)
Walk the Path to Grow in the Capacity to Love
“This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply.”
Grow to love. Grow in faith. Work at it.
Take the path that has “exercise stops” along the way.
Exercise your goodness first – the goodness Christ has given you.
Then stop to exercise wisdom – the knowledge we gain as we study God’s Word and practice being more and more like Christ.
Next, exercise selflessness and self-control, the fruits that the Holy Spirit has planted in you.
Practice patience and gentleness.
Your next stop on the exercise trail is labeled “Gratitude.” It is there that you learn to be grateful for the gifts you have been given while you focus on the gifts in others.
Put On Your Jesus Glasses
When you put on your Jesus glasses, you see the goodness, compassion, and faithfulness of others as God sees them. When you put on your Jesus glasses and appreciate all that is unique and wonderful about others, you see them as God’s creations. You have exercised enough now to love them.
Love Takes Effort!
Love is a gift worth working for. Thank God, He has freely loved us long before we knew how to love Him back. But now we do! We are getting to know God better and better. Praise the Lord!
The Bottom Line
Yes, the bottom line is the key:
Love One Another.
What will you do today to demonstrate your love for others? Tell me about it!
On her September 26th blog, aroused calmkate posted this:
I think kindness is the key to all that I might be
if I’m kind to others they might be kind to me
if I live in kindness there will be more harmony
any kindness I convey radiates an awesome way
if no kindness in their heart for me move away, let them be
they are kind to others I will see just healthier for me to flee
please try your kindness key it might just set us free
I responded with, “…Kindness is indeed the key to living a meaningful, happy life. It is ours to give, whether or not it is reciprocated. The ones who lack the “Kindness Key” are locked out of so much joy, but they don’t have to rob ours! Our kindness is ours to give – and the more we give away, the more we have. It’s like love that way.”
The 6 Keys to Kindness
Yes, kindness is a key… but there are keys to kindness, too. Here are a few that come to my mind:
Self acceptance (it’s hard to be kind to others while being mean to yourself!)
Compassion (we need to open our eyes to others’ needs and exude empathy)
Courtesy (being kind involves being courteous – even in the face of rudeness)
Gentleness (yes, responding with a gentle heart is a necessary turn of the key)
Grace (this word is a gift from God… sometimes it is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that we can return kindness in the face of hurt)
Patience (often I need to count to 10, or 25, before I can respond with kindness… it’s not my human nature for my first response always to be kindness)
The sermon at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church was delivered today by Elaine Hundley, Christian educator extraordinaire. She titled it, “Perfect Weakness,” as she focused on the messages in Isaiah 40:1-8, 28-31 and 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Is there Perfect Weakness?
The Apostle Paul spoke of his weakness, his struggles, and his ability to find strength in spite of his troubles – by leaning on the Power of God. But, is there “Perfect Weakness?” The message today said, Yes, there can be, but not without giving our weaknesses to God… and letting Him take away our doubt and give us the strength found only in His Power.
Poetic Sermon Notes
Here are the notes I took away from the message as I heard it this morning:
Is doubt your constant companion?
Do doubts creep into your heart?
Do you read or listen to the news
And wonder when the next war will start?
. Breaking News:
29 dead and many more injured
in the past 13 hours
in the USA
in two mass shootings!
When will these senseless
What can we do??
God bless the families,
the loved ones of those
involved in these mass shootings
in the USA yesterday and today.
May they somehow find comfort in their faith
and in the compassionate comments,
hugs, and support of their friends.
. I beg: Lord, help us find solutions
for the problems of
that rampage our country –
and the proliferation of assault weapons
that are in the hands of unstable civilians.
My Madison Valley Writers’ Group meets every first and third Friday. We begin with a free write for about 15 minutes – prompted by a topic drawn out of a bag. I have the bag and members are invited to add topics to it whenever they are inspired to do so.
Arriving five minutes late yesterday, I forgot the bag… so our topic was “Stream of Consciousness.” We were invited to write about whatever was on our mind.
Here is what I wrote:
Life is a series
Of highs and lows
It’s full of surprises –
Some hugs and some blows.
As long as we’re able
To roll with the punches,
Life gives us roses
And blessings in bunches.
It’s when we are stiffened
By pain and cruel people
That life knocks us over
And we topple from the steeple
Of security and safety
That we have always had.
So send those folks back out
And come back to being glad.
Life is a series
Of questions with too many insults
Unless we learn to toss away
The negativity for positive results.
So, set your mind on “Happy.”
Let that sad emoticon disappear
And remember when you need a hug,
I’m always ready … always here.
Throw out the old boxing gloves.
Don’t return blows in life’s fight.
Just give back love and grace –
And keep your spirit ever bright.
It’s not Pollyanna thinking.
It’s possible – even probable – I know,
Because I practice that love daily.
It’s where I get my inner glow!
… and so do I!
See ya tomorrow
If you had a chance to do a free write on a stream of consciousness right now, what would your topic be?