Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)
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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
When I woke up this morning, the sun was on the horizon. When my eyes popped open, the first thought in my head was “what day is it?” Is it a workday? Is it Sunday? No, it’s Saturday. I immediately relaxed and a smile crept across my face. Grabbing my phone, it was 6:30 AM. Wow, I got to sleep in past my usual 4:15 AM that I have adopted with the long ten-hour days that our office follows in the summertime. There is something about waking up without the need to rush off and start the day. I get up early to make sure I am able to pick up the fresh mercy that God has made for this day because surely I will need it just like I pack a lunch each day for my family and I. We will get hungry at some point in the day. I have a “to-do” list that does not include the responsibilities that I have at work. See at work, I must do what they require because they pay me to do it so I must earn my paycheck. But on Saturday, I am free to do whatever it is that I would like to do. I could clean my house. Do some laundry. Maybe some shopping with my girls or hang out watching some television with the guys. Or I could go rob a bank or decide to beat someone up. I could vandalize a building or strip a car. Okay, so now that you think that I have completely lost my mind, let me clarify. When I woke up this morning, I was a free woman. It is up to me to maintain my freedom. To do so, I will not rob a bank today. I have decided not to beat anyone up but I am also challenged by the Lord not to think murderous thoughts. There is no need to vandalize a building. Or go on any other kind of heinous crime spree. No for today, I have decided to do what the law requires except maybe cheating a bit on the speed limit which I am working on after two warnings from the Highway Patrol. Today I choose to allow grace to work in my life! I accept the free gift of life given by God as He attempts to raise my life to His Glorious Standard. That is if I can manage to stop trying to do it myself and let grace work in my life today.
The grace of God removes every weight and heavy burden in the life of the believer. The key word in that statement is “believer”. Grace is from God and everything God creates and sets forth is bound by His Will except mankind. We have been given the option of having a “free will” to live our own life any way that we choose. So this morning when I woke up at 6:30 AM, I could have easily rolled over and pulled the covers over my head moaning and groaning about the horrible week that I had. I could have but I chose not to. I might even argue that there are quite a few things I could be mad about, but I am not. Instead, I was ready for the day. Not because I am absolutely sure that it will be a great day even though it seems promising. There is no guarantee that everything will go my way but because I choose to live submitted to God for righteousness’s sake the Grace of God is working in me and through me to make the best of each moment. We are saved by grace THROUGH faith. It is a Gift from God. We cannot do it, make it or earn it ever. We are created by God to do good things. Sin is the problem as it tries to persuade us to act differently than our original workmanship. Every person is born with Eternity in their heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We are given a measure of faith if we ever decide to use it. (Romans 12:2) This is God’s Workmanship in you! What makes it all work? Grace! The Will of God is the Word of God – it is not a mystery. We don’t decide what is good. God already did. God offers His Grace like a gift. But as it is with any present that we are given, we decide whether or not we use it in our life.
Matthew 19:16-22 (NKJV)
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness, ’‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
You can be a good person and still not make it into Heaven. This is mind-blowing for some people. Grace is the only chance we have at Eternal Life. I have always why the Lord was snarky to this young man. At least, it sounds like that in the beginning of this story. He respectfully calls Jesus – “good teacher”. Jesus says, “Why do you call me good?” The man recognized Jesus religiously but did not make the connection relationally. He was working to get into Heaven rather than accepting the Way, the Truth and the Life. When Jesus told him, “to be perfect, go, sell what have and give it to the poor and will have treasure in heaven AND come follow me.” The young man did not believe. He was unwilling to follow Jesus. We can do good things. We can be good people. But without the Grace of God, the free and undeserved gift of God’s Riches at Christ expense – we cannot enter Heaven. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. It contains the Law of God AND so many other things for the believer. To accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior requires accepting His Word. He is the Bread of Life and Living Water. To take Him in, we must accept His Word. The Word of God details the Will of God for our life. Grace covers our sin so that as we do the Word of God living in the Will of God we receive life. Grace is not permission to sin. Grace is not an excuse to give up and not try to have God’s Very Best. Grace is the opportunity to raise our life to God’s Glorious Standard.
Romans 3:23-26 (NKJV)
…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, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The enemy has set forth a lie that has infiltrated the church that grace allows for habitual sin. Grace is not the pursuit of perfection. Grace is not the privilege of willful disobedience. Those who understand the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ to provide grace to all God’s People could not ever trample through it knowingly. Grace is powerful. Grace produces life. Death is the glory of sin. But life is the Glorious Standard that God has set forth when He created us. Sin glorifies death. But those who choose to live in the Grace of God would never do such a thing because to that which you give glory becomes your god. Living in the darkness and sin of this world openly or secretly demonstrates a lack of belief and little faith. If you truly believe that the Gift of God is eternal life, why would you dance with the dead? We come to God through repentance and the belief that there is something to be gained by righteousness. Grace is given freely to those who wish to accept it. It is designed for those who love good over evil choosing life over death. Otherwise, what’s the point? Grace is a waste unless of course you want something more than this life has to offer. Churches that teach it’s okay to live how you want and do whatever because God’s Grace is sufficient – do not know the Truth and the Word is not in them.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Everyone has weaknesses. It is just who we are. Sin has taken its toll on humanity. The Lord has told us, “My Grace is sufficient for you! My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” When I woke up this morning, a number of things crossed my head that I could have worried about. I could be worried about our son’s current fight against cancer. I could struggle with concern that his blood count is falling making him more susceptible to illness. I could be worried that our youngest jammed her toes last night maybe fracturing one. I could be stressed about the wedding that is just about four months away. I could be overwrought with worry about money. I could be thinking about everything going on at work. But as many worries, concerns and burdens that the enemy tried to get me to take hold of this morning, the less interested I became in taking hold of them. Not because I am super human or maybe slightly crazy – I just kept hearing the song “Your Grace Finds Me” by Matt Redmon playing in my head. Grace is not an excuse. It is an opportunity to live life in right standing with God so that when life is overwhelming and trials never ending, it’s His Grace that finds me and not the other way around. Grace is for the righteous who believe that what God has to offer is better than anything else that this world has. It is an opportunity to live beyond my means as His Grace works in my life to restore me to God’s Glorious Standard.
Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness before His Full Measure of Grace was poured out on us. (Romans 4:3-8) Grace is for those who love God and want to live in close proximity to God. The Lord will never allow thieves and robbers to steal the inheritance of His Children. That includes people who want grace only for the moment they die. Such people will not like Heaven because it is filled with God’s Goodness and Glory. “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16) We do not strive to do the right thing to make it into Heaven. We do the right thing because we love our Father and want to be like Him. Death glorifies sin. Life is the Glory of God for His Children who have decided that His Grace is sufficient for them. (Romans 5:20-21)
Titus 3:1-8 (NKJV)
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
I am the proud owner of a teenager. I should not be surprised by the change in her appearance or attitude as she enters this phase of life as I have done it and survived it three times before. However, when your sweet, loving child turns into a moody tyrant it shocks me every time like it’s the first time. When I left the house yesterday, I forgot my phone which stays with me always these days as I awaited the results of our son’ s latest blood count. I had my daughter call her and ask her to bring it outside to me as I turned around to head back home and retrieve it. I was met in the driveway by a slouching, slow moving, irate teenage who made it a point to walk as slowly a possible to do what I asked. I was so aggravated. After running errands, I returned home to find the same person enthusiastically and energetically washing all the cars in the driveway with her dad. She was smiling and laughing. Wow, I am witnessing a miracle. Willingly helping her dad washing and cleaning out cars on a hot day in June and happy to do it. I had to ask – “What’s up with you?” She answered, “I wanted to spend time with my dad.” Lesson learned. This is should be our response to God’s Grace. We do things the way He wants just to be closer to Him! This is our response to the Grace of God. It changes our heart to desire to be where He is and do whatever it takes to maintain close proximity to the Lord. It means evaluating and examining everything that comes into our life and rejecting those things that might separate us from our Father!
James 4:4-7 (NKJV)
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
We serve a jealous God! His Love for us is unfailing and unconditional. We don’t even have to love Him back and He still loves us. You can take anything from me you want and I will get over it. You can hurt me with your words or actions and I will eventually forgive you. But if you mess with one of my kids, people we have a problem. If human love for our children is such one cannot fathom God’s Love for His Children. His Grace is for His Children. Those who want to be in His Love forever. Is that you today? Grace works. Try it!
Philippians 4:23 (NKJV) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.