Ephesians 2

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

To live our lives bringing the gladness we share with God into the lives of other people is how God chooses to use us.  This is a key to loving our neighbor. To live our lives starting joy wherever we go. God makes this possible by giving us his grace. But, not only in a forgiving way. The Bible word for “grace” is actually the same root as the word for “joy”- charis.

Saved by grace also means saved for joy. Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor.” A clearer word for favor in modern English is “special.” Very,very special. So a good definition for “grace” is “Very special and you don’t have to do anything.” Or “Very special and you don’t have to work at it.”  Saved because we are very special to God and we don’t have to do anything to be special. Just exist. What does this look like? Just like last week, we are back to babies again.

There is no one who gets unmerited favor, someone who is very special and they don’t have to earn it or do a thing about it- than a baby. When a good mom and dad see their baby for the first time, they aren’t going to love that baby more or any less than they do at that moment. All the baby has to do is be. The baby doesn’t have to do anything.

That’s our identity with our loving father. It isn’t what we do that makes us special. It is who we are.

This is my primary identity. This is who I am. Son of the God of everything. Son of an amazing loving Father. How do I respond to him?

Joy. Joy is our response to God’s grace. The joy we see in a smiling baby is our model. And that’s high energy joy! That’s joy that wants to make mommy and daddy glad to be with us. Babies learn to imitate good parents right away. They will do anything to get that smile out of mom and dad. A baby follows their parent’s lead because they want to please their mommy. Their daddy. There is nothing like being glad together. But, joy can be a bit overwhelming.

So, in comes something Jim Wilder calls, “Joy’s sister.”


Shalom is quiet and low energy. God wires us for shalom just as he wires us for joy. You see, we are all rather weak and can’t sustain a high-energy state for long. God wires our brains so that every experience of high energy joy calls for a time of rest to follow. This is the endless rhythm God wires into us. High-energy joy followed by low-energy shalom. One can’t live without the other.Back to kids again.

When we wind kids up, we need to bring them down. We help them quiet and rest.

God designs this to be the rhythm of our lives. Shalom is that powerful rest that comes when you know everything is right. There is nothing to worry about.


What is a great worry you have today? Where is God in that worry? What might he say to you about it?

Tuesday March 29- Give Each Other a Break

Mark 16:2-3

Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb at the rising of the sun. They said among themselves, “Who will roll the stone away from the door of the tomb for us?”

The women come to the tomb. They are going to anoint Jesus for burial even though he doesn’t need it. They also need someone to roll away the big circular stone that blocks the entrance to the family tomb, but they have no idea who is going to do that. It’s not like you have a crowd of people hanging out in cemeteries.

But they go anyway.

The women are on a mission. Someone beloved dies, you have to do something. And you are not always thinking straight.

When our loved ones are dying or when they die, everything is not one neat package. We do things and say things that may not be too logical, may not be too sensitive, and we are not always thinking straight.

Let’s give each other a break.

Wide, wide boundaries of graciousness. We are all going to need it.


Putting actions in the best light, giving the benefit of doubt, this is what we want others to do for us. Do this for others.