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God’s Amazing Grace
There are a lot of words that are misunderstood in today’s culture. Take for instance the word “love.” A lot of people say, “I’m in love,” but in truth it’s more like, “I’m in lust.”
But there is one word that we cannot afford to misunderstand, and that’s because it has everything to do with our relationship with God, and that is the word, “grace.” We wrongly define it. For example we say, “We’re under grace, so we can continue living like we want.”
And while it’s true that God forgives, we’ve totally misunderstood, misapplied, and misused God’s grace. When we see God’s grace for what it is, then our lives will change. When we understand God’s grace and rightly apply it, then our lives will undergo a dramatic upgrade.
Look at how the Bible describes this upgrade.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
God’s grace immediately upgrades our lives from being lost to being saved. If it weren’t for God’s grace we’d all be on a downward spiral to hell, but God’s grace saves us.
Concerning God and His grace towards us the Bible says,
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10 NKJV)
That’s grace. If God gave us what we deserved, we’d be dead. The Bibles says that the wages of sin is death, which means we are forever separated from God because of our sins, Romans 6:23.
But God gave us His grace through our faith in Jesus Christ. So we can’t say, “We’re under grace so we can do whatever we want.” That’s a misuse and an abuse of God’s grace.
Let me illustrate with a workplace example.
Let’s say you’ve been working for a company a long time, and so you begin to act as if you owned the place. You say bad things about the owner. You burn a lot of relational bridges with coworkers, and you feel like you’re owed, so you take things. Finally you decide to come in and leave whenever you want.
One day the owner calls you in and tells you he knows about everything you’ve been doing, and says that according to the policy manual you signed when you were hired, it says you are now fired. So he says, “You’re fired.”
You respond, “But I have a family to support and bills to pay. I need this job.”
But the owner says, “I’m sorry, but according to our policy you’re fired. You’ve been taking advantage of your position and have taken the company and myself for granted. Please clean out your desk.”
Your face turns pale as you think about your family. You also know you’re getting what you deserve. You’ve stolen, came in late and left early without permission, spoken inappropriately, and have hurt others. So you’re getting what you deserve.
As you’re cleaning out your desk, the owner comes over and says; “I know your family will be devastated, because it’s their life you’ve destroyed as well as your own. So, even though you’re fired, I’m going to extend to you grace. I’m going to override the policy, because I can, so you still have your job, not because you deserve it, because you don’t, but rather because of my grace. From this time forward you’re under my grace.”
I pretty sure you’re going to change your ways. You won’t go down the same path that got you fired in the first place. You wouldn’t say, “Hey, since I’m under grace I’m going to continue like nothing ever happened.”
That would be the furthest thing on your mind. You’d be grateful and do your job differently. And that is because of grace.
This is God’s amazing grace for us. There are several traits, attitudes if you would, that I’d like to talk about from those who possess God’s amazing grace.
1. An Attitude of Gratitude
By God’s grace we’re here right now. God didn’t have to wake us up this morning or give to us another breath of life. But He did; therefore, we’re under His grace. When we realize it’s by God’s grace and God’s grace alone that we have been saved, then we’ll begin to live with this attitude of gratitude.
I don’t think there’s anyone in whom the Lord hasn’t graciously given a second change to. In fact, that’s the story of John Newton, the author of the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
He wrote the song after taking advantage of God’s second chance. He was not a very good person. He captained a salve ship, but in a storm God change the course of his life, from that of being a slave trader, to that of being a minister.
Newton also had a tremendous influence upon William Wilberforce who eventually was able to abolish slavery in England.
In 1779 Newton wrote these immortal words.
“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.
’twas Grace that taught, my heart to fear. And grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed?
Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ’tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”
Newton really understood grace as he wrote these words, and as a result lived his life differently. He now had that overall sense of gratitude. And it’s such gratitude that changes our lives as well, because when we look at God’s amazing grace, we realize we don’t deserve it, instead we deserve to be fired, we deserve death.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV)
Only God can offer this grace. In our workplace scenario you’re not fired because the owner extended you grace. The policy manual says that you’re fired, but the owner says, “You’re forgiven by my grace.”
The law says, “You sin, you die, because the wages of sin is death.”
But God says, “My Son paid the price for your sins upon the cross, so that My grace is available to you.
Our sin is what prompted God’s grace. God is the only One who can overrule the law with grace. And He did so through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the death He died upon the cross to satisfy the requirements of the law.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
Everyone has fallen short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life, but in the fullness of His grace, God declares us not guilty through the redemption price Jesus paid.
Therefore we need to start living with an attitude of gratitude. If we don’t then we’ll end up empty. We may have places to go and people to see, but if we don’t take advantage of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then at the end of this life we’ll have nothing to see us through into heaven.
So when we leave the owner’s office we say, “Wow, I’m under grace. Everything that was taken away has been restored, so I’m no longer going to take this job or life for granted.”
2. An Attitude of Excellence
The Bible says we’re to put off the old ways of life and start putting on God’s new way, that is, God’s way of grace, Ephesians 4:22. So instead of going back to our old ways we should determine to live a life of excellence for God.
We’re no longer working for the old boss, Satan, rather we’re working for our new boss, God.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV)
No longer will we downgrade our lives by misunderstanding or misusing God’s grace. Instead we are going to upgrade our lives to God’s grace.
If we are living this new life in Christ, then let’s look at His example.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52 NKJV)
Jesus lived a life of excellence in all four areas, Mentally (wisdom), physically (stature), spiritual (favor with God), and socially (favor with men).
How are we doing in these four areas?
• Mentally: are we still open to learning? Are we looking for new challenges? Someone said that if we’re not learning then we’re not growing.
• Physically: our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies then aren’t really ours; rather we’re to be stewards of them. So how are we stewarding the bodies God has given?
• Spiritually: are we growing spiritually? Are we daily reading God’s word, praying, and worshipping the Lord?
• Socially: how are our relationships with those inside and outside the faith? Are we building bridges to share our faith, or are we tearing them down?
God desires for us to live lives of excellence, which is something we are to grow and strive for, and that’s because we serve and excellent God.
“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!” (Psalm 8:1 NKJV)
God is an excellent God, and if God created us in His image and likeness then we’re to be an excellent people. God didn’t design us to be mediocre, so we are to live with an overall sense of excellence.
So when we step out of the owners office realizing that we’re here only because of grace, then our whole life starts to become excellent, because we realize the excellence of grace.
When we understand God’s grace then we’ll start living with an attitude of gratitude and excellence, and people will start taking notice and be drawn to God’s amazing grace.
3. An Attitude of Urgency
In other words there is going to be a sense of urgency to make right the wrongs.
In our workplace illustration, when we leave the owner’s office, he tells us to make amends with our co-workers. And so we won’t say, “If they don’t like it that’s their problem.” Instead there will be an urgency to make right our wrongs against them.
This was the story of the tax collector, Zacchaeus. After receiving God’s wondrous grace through the visit Jesus made to his home, he said, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8 NKJV)
Relationships don’t go sour overnight. It takes a long time for grudges to form. For the most part a person doesn’t get fired for nothing and without warning. Something was generally wrong for some time.
Problems don’t occur overnight. They start long before the problem surfaces. When we properly understand God’s grace, then we’ll make right the wrongs we’ve committed.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Jesus is saying right relationships are more important than doing church, and when people understand the grace they’ve been extended, then they’ll have an urgency to make the wrongs right.
God wants us to understand that while we should get fired, we’re now living under grace, and this should upgrade our lives. We’ll start seeing things we never saw before, and appreciate more what God has given. And then we’ll start making right the wrongs, all because of God’s amazing grace.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
When we understand a little more about God’s amazing grace, the old self will go away and a new self in Christ will emerge.
Hopefully God’s grace will take on a new meaning as we realize and understand the wonders of His amazing grace.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study