God loves you unconditionally and accepts you just as you are.  If you hear nothing else today, I hope you hear that and remember it.  Because only as you believe God because of what Jesus has done accepts you just as you are and loves you unconditionally, will we ever be able to have any kind of peace and joy in your lives.  Joy is not happiness, but an inner sense that all is right with you before God, and peace is not a smooth, care-free life, but a profound inner calm that trusts you will end up with Jesus in heaven.  Then life becomes a ball and hardships nothing but blips because Jesus is with you all the way and will be there at the end as well!

I believe that the parable Jesus speaks of in the Good News reading for today speaks volumes about the subject of what our belief about God does for us and how we react to him in our daily lives.

So, what kind of a person are you?  Do you believe God is gracious to you and gives you plenty of all that you need, or do you find God to be stingy?   You know, you never quite get from God what you need to live in this world.  You may envy others for their abundance of talent, better parents, smarter children, more opportunities that you have.  After all, not all of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths.

Of course, none of us have everything we want, although most of us have all that we need and more.  Even though we have enough, we, because of our humanity often want more and sometimes get off the right path seeking to get what we believe we should have, deserve, or cannot live without.

So today each of us needs to do a bit of an inventory of what we have received from God and what we are doing with it.  So here are a few questions about what God has given us.

What talents, abilities, qualities do you possess that God has given you?  For example, are you healthy?  Do you have family?  Do you get enough to eat, do have a roof over your head at night, do you have adequate clothing, and do you have means of transportation?

How about education?  Were you able to be educated?  Did you have training in the work God gave you?  Were you able to perform your duties that God had given you?

Now to some of these questions you may have answered with a “maybe somewhat.”  In other words you missed out on something.  It could be good family, or educational opportunities you missed.  It could have been that instead of the work you had dreamed about you had to take something else, or you didn’t ever have the opportunity to do it.

First of all, according to this parable of the Lord Jesus, God gives each of us according to our ability to handle whatever it is God wants you to have.  Sure, we maybe feel slighted with what we received from God, but, you know all that we have and have

experienced is what God thought we could not only handle, but how we could serve in his world.

Perhaps one of the questions this parable raises for us is: have we used all that God has given us for his glory and in honor and praise of his name?

Some of us are complainers.  Some of us simply are lazy.  Some of us think we don’t have enough ever to make a mark in this world.

I hope all of you here today realize that the best gift you ever received from God, or perhaps will receive from God is the gift of faith-trusting God to care for you in this world and in the world to come.

He has done all of this through permitting us to hear of Jesus.  Jesus came into this world. He lived perfectly for us because we cannot live as we should.  He showed through his miracles that we wants all people to be fed, freed from disease and affliction and even death.  Then he paid for all the times we goof about doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong, by dying on the cross.  Some of us have experienced this better than others.  Some of us may even appreciate this more than some others.  Some of us may even realize that the only reason we can face today and tomorrow is because we have received this unbelievable gift of faith.  Yes, the gift of life itself, for without Jesus we do not live, but only exist.

There is even more.  This Jesus, God’s one and only Son, rose from the dead to tell us that death is finished and that we shall live because we, by faith, are united with him now and always.  Life is good and will get even better in the world to come!

How does the Spirit-given faith affect you?  Is there joy in your heart and does this bubble over in your relationships with people?  Or is it always the same-old-same-old?  If I was around you very long, could I perceive that you are different from others who do not know Jesus?

Perhaps ever more is this:  are you sharing Jesus with others through how to react to them and how you treat them?  Would I know for a fact that as you live for Jesus that everything about life is exciting and more?  Is your life lived with peace and joy because of Jesus’ gift of forgiveness for all the mistakes you and others make?

The parable today tells us several important aspects of your life and mine.  I believe the first is that God gives us bountifully of all that we can handle.  He gives us according to the abilities that he also has given.

Then if we believe God is almighty and does what he wants anyway and that we can’t do anything about it, then we may sit on the gift that, never forget, he has given us.  It really doesn’t make any difference either what condition you are in.

Do you once in awhile think you have it bad, that you have nothing good in your life?  That it is all a mess?  Do you realize that you might just be lazy?  Even worse, do you know that that it is evil, a terrible sin to waste what God has given you?

Of course, if you think God has been a miser according your inventory, then you might find out that God doesn’t expect you to shine like the brightest star in the sky, but he might expect you to let your little Gospel light shine on someone you know and even perhaps someone who loves you.  How about that?

We are bombarded, and that means we are being bombed, blown apart by scenes that our lives ought to be better, organic rather than the ordinary, the house with the curved staircase rather than the one story “thing” we live in right now, the auto with the latest devices for safety and good gas mileage.  We might even think God must not care for us or consider us because of our condition.

Awake, sleepers!  God has given each of you at least one “talent.”  That is, the Good News of salvation from this kind of negative thinking and turn us so that we many have daily the joy of salvation.  We can sing: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.”

O Lord Jesus, do this daily for me so that I may praise you daily with all the wonderful gifts you have given me, especially the gift of the knowledge and faith of being saved and having eternal life.  Amen.

This message from Walter H. Harms is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]  A Pass it On Project

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