Please pray with me: God of Heaven and Earth,
I love you! I love you - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Thank you for giving me this time of connection with you. Thank you for giving me the desire to stop and listen to what you are saying to me today. I ask, heavenly Father, that you open my heart even wider so that I will be a good listener and that you will inspire me to apply these words and this time to what is currently going on in my life. Please help me to focus by putting aside any distractions that might come my way in these next few minutes.
I love you, Jesus! I love you, Jesus!! I love you, Jesus!!!
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
In this Sunday's message, Pastor Zank preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He encouraged us not to "pass by" as the priest and the Levite did, but to "get in the boat" as Jesus did when his disciples were in a storm and as the Samaritan does in this parable. Jesus told this parable in response to a man who, wanting to justify himself, asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Because of Paul's words to the Romans above, hopefully we will resist the temptation to try and justify ourselves. You see, Christ has already justified us. Paul says in verse 9, "Since we have now been justified by his blood…". The reality that simple phrase unpacks for us changes everything! We don't have to go around asking, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
It has already been done for us. No more legalism, performance anxiety, guilt, or whatever else you want to call it.
Because of Jesus' suffering on the cross for me, I have been set free to do good works and "get into the boat" with whomever God is calling me to serve. As Pastor Zank spoke of, I now can act out of real empathy and compassion and not just out of empty sympathy. Knowing and experiencing God's awesome love for me really motivates me to serve Him by not passing by, but rather "getting in the boat" with my neighbors.
May God grant us the desire and the ability to do His will!