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Read:  2 Corinthians 5:16-19

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Jesus Christ has changed things.  He has changed us.  He has changed how we understand God.  He has changed how we look at one another.  He has changed how we look at the world.  These changes began with God, Who “was reconciling the world to Himself” (v. 19).  God has initiated the change.  It is God Who has made this all possible.  It is God Who wants us to view things from a new perspective, from a viewpoint of Divine mercy and grace.

In the new year we often celebrate new beginnings.  We have hope as we imagine ourselves enjoying sustained resolutions.  Some of our efforts will succeed, others will fail.  That’s always the case with human efforts.  I wish you well in your endeavors to craft a “new-you”. But what of God’s great resolution?  It most certainly will not fail.  And it all has to do with mercy and grace.

Mercy is when we do not receive the punishment that we deserve.  In terms of God, we do not receive the penalties for the sins we commit; we are pardoned because God is merciful.  In grace we receive wonderful blessings that we don’t deserve (unmerited favor).  In salvation both God’s grace and mercy are at work.  Sinners (that’s all of us, folks) are not condemned, but are forgiven.  To the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, Christ said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”   They didn’t even ask for it, they hadn’t repented, but God forgave them.

Not only are sinners forgiven (mercy), but they are invited to become children of God (new life in Christ), what a remarkable blessing- that’s grace.

God’s love is beyond even incredible forgiveness; God’s love offers incredible blessings – mercy and grace.

Shalom, Pastor Rob