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A Christian’s Heart
“A Grace-Filled Heart”
In this series on a Christian’s heart we’re looking at those qualities a Christian should and needs to possess, qualities that should be deep within our hearts.
Today we’re going to be looking at a grace-filled heart, a heart filled with the grace of God. But what exactly is grace? This is important because we really can’t proceed until we get this established.
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve, which is nothing less than His blessings and eternal life in heaven. It was by grace through faith that we’re saved and became a part of God’s family. This is why our hearts should be grace-filled.
Now, there are two truths that everyone should know, and once we get these down they’ll transform our thinking when it comes to God’s grace.
Grace is God’s gift to us. It’s a gift of God. Therefore we can’t earn it, because no one earns a gift. What we need to do then is to receive it and open it up for our lives.
There are three aspects to having a grace-filled heart that I’d like to share with you. These are hearts that are filled with gratitude, endurance, and the fear God.
Thinking about someone who had a grateful heart, the woman with the Alabaster jar comes to mind.
“And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and
“(She) stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. (Luke 7:37-38 NKJV)
This woman recognized she was a sinner and she also recognized who Jesus was, and she show her gratitude in the best and highest way possible as she knelt at His feet, praising and serving Him by cleaning His feet with her tears and anointing them with fragrant oil. It was her way of saying, “I’m sorry,” “thank you,” and “I love you.”
It is by God’s grace that we’re even here this morning. God didn’t have to wake us up and give us another breath of life, but by His grace He did. It’s with this knowledge that we should then have a grace-filled heart of gratitude.
Another person with such a grace-filled heart of gratitude was John Newton, author of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
God spared his life in a storm that should have sunk the ship he was piloting. After this experience he became a minister of the gospel and wrote down his words of gratitude
In the verses one and three he says,
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
“Through many danger, toils and snares, I have already come; this grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. “
It’s having such a grace-filled heart of gratitude that changes our lives. But how does such a grace-fill heart of gratitude respond?
When we look at God’s amazing grace, grace we don’t deserve and that keeps and saves us when we deserve death and hell, a grace-filled heart of gratitude responds by praising God’s wonderful, marvelous, and amazing grace.
Such was the heart of John Newton when he wrote this hymn.
But such a grace-filled heart responds also through generosity.
Consider Jesus who gave it all. If we want a measuring stick to see how we stack up and are living up to God’s wondrous grace, we need to consider Jesus’ generosity as He died to take our place and set us free.
Jesus’ generosity is seen in Paul letter to the Philippian Church.
“Who being in the form of God…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death.” (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)
When we show such generosity from a heart filled with gratitude, God will make all grace abound in our hearts, and where we’ll have everything we need in abundance to do what God has called for us to do.
“God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7b-8 NKJV)
Such generosity, however, involves far more than our finances; it also involves our time if not our entire lives. It’s the giving of ourselves completely, cheerfully, liberally, and abundantly.
And so the first aspect of a grace-filled heart is that it is a heart of gratitude.
Next what we see is that a grace-filled heart is
It was such an enduring grace-filled heart that John Newton wrote about in his hymn. In verse four he writes,
“The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”
People today are going through so much from the wide variety of illnesses and disease to stress levels that is off the chart, many of whom are just one tick away from a heart attack. People have become such an emotional wreck that they’re turning more and more to such things as alcohol and drugs thinking they’ll bring peace and relief. But they don’t.
What we need in order to get us to the end is an enduring heart. And to have such an enduring heart comes from our confidence not in ourselves, but in the Lord.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)
When we open our hearts allowing Jesus inside, then we can have this confidence that heaven will be our eventual home. Paul tells us that there’s no doubt about this reality saying that because he has fought the good fight and finished the race keeping faith the whole way there now is a crown of righteousness waiting for him in heaven, 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
God gives us the power to keep on going when all we want to do is quit. He gives us the power to endure through times of trial and tribulations.
The Bible talks about how Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8. In short Satan is out to eat our lunch. But if we stand firm in the faith, endure the hardships, then Satan have nothing to hold on to.
But the reality is that most of us are just tired. We’re exhausted and we only seem have enough energy to get by, and once that’s expended that’s it, there’s nothing left in the tank.
Recently I found myself running on empty as I was traveling to Las Vegas. Literally my car said I had “0” miles to go, and there was at least two to three miles before the next gas station. Luckily I found myself mostly on a downhill slope so I could coast most of the way.
When we’re exhausted what happens is that we find ourselves without much energy to fight the temptation and/or trial, and so we kind of coast in our spiritual walk just hoping we have enough energy to get by.
But the only time we can coast, and please catch this, is when we’re going downhill. If all we’re doing is coasting in our spiritual life then what will happen is that we’ll find ourselves on that slippery slope leading downward towards hell, not upward towards God.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
For this to happen what we need is Holy Spirit power.
Jesus knew what lay before the disciples once He was gone, so He told them to wait until they were endued with this heavenly power, power from on high, power to endure to the end.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49 NKJV)
Therefore, when we find ourselves tired and exhausted and ready to give up, there are three things we can do that will help, and things we need the Holy Spirit’s power for.
The Apostle James says,
“He gives more grace…Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:6-8 NKJV)
God will give us more grace when we submit ourselves and draw near to Him.
2. Get God’s Word Inside
The Bible brings us comfort, strengthens our hearts, fills our spirits, soothes our souls, and gives us the energy to keep going. This is why we need to get into God’s word, and let God’s word get into us.
The Psalmist says,
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11 NKJV)
There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible, so we need to keep focused on the hope and promises of God.
When Paul asked God to remove his malady or illness he was suffering from, the Lord said that He would give Paul the strength and grace to endure it.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV)
It was with such an enduring heart that saw that Paul believed in God’s promises for, and that saw him through to the end, and it’s with such a grace filled heart of endurance believing in God’s promises that will see us through as well.
And so a grace-filled heart is a heart of gratitude and a heart that endures the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
And finally a grace-filled heart is
This concept of fearing God was very real to John Newton. In his second verse he said,
“‘twas Grace that taught, my heart to fear. And grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”
During the terrifying hours of that storm, Newton, who didn’t believe in God, prayed.
John Newton said: “I concluded my sins were too great to be forgiven. I waited with fear and impatience to receive my doom.”
Newton was afraid. Later he believed that this fear was God’s tool to get his attention bringing him to salvation. Again listen to that first line. “‘twas grace that taught my heart to fear”
Besides the love of God bringing people to salvation, the fear of God does as well.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12 NKJV)
The problem today is that within the church we’ve neutered the word fear when it comes to the Lord. And while it has the meaning of having an awe and reverence for God, that awe and reverence comes the realization that we’re sinners standing before a holy and righteous God.
This should then bring a sense of real fear, because unless we get our lives right with God, then hell will be our outcome, hence working out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Paul tells us that if God is for us then who can be against us, Romans 8:31.
This is a powerful and remarkable verse. God is not just with us; He’s for us. And what makes this so remarkable is that there are so many reasons why He should be against us, and they all have to do with sin. But because of His grace He’s for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.
The Lord told Joshua,
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV)
Oswald Chambers said,
“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” (http://utmost.org/quotes/2331/)
A grace-filled heart is a heart that fears God, and as the Solomon says, it’s the fear of God that brings both wisdom and knowledge, Proverbs 9:10.
A grace-filled heart is a heart that is filled with Christ, because all of God’s grace came through Him, John 1:17.
A heart that is filled with God’s grace is then a heart that wants to share this grace with others.
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8 NKJV)
What have we freely received? God’s grace!
We’ve been given this amazing grace, so let’s pass it on. Let’s follow our motto here at Living Waters Fellowship and “Let Each One Reach One.” Let each one of us reach someone else with God amazing grace.
This is a grace-filled heart.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study