Summary: A message of hope with testimonies of how God’s Amazing Grace reached everyday people.
By The Amazing Grace of God
Well today I’m not really going to preach to you. God let me know very clear that I was not to preach. I just want to talk to you about some things I’ve been thinking about.
I’ve been thinking about grace all week long. You’ve probably already picked that up from the songs and scriptures in today’s service. The whole service is a message to us about the grace of God. And I’m defining the grace of God as that undeserved free gift of love that he gives us in our life. This week, as always has been a week full of encounters with God’s grace. It seems that I’ve spent more time than usual though, on the phone and in face-to-face conversation. But after every single phone conversation, every single meeting over lunch or breakfast, every single contact and visit that I have had this week, I have reflected on and recognized the grace of God at work.
And as I lived with, thought about, talked about, wrote about, and read about grace this week, I was continually brought to tears. On one occasion this week, after a series of phone calls and visits, I found myself on my face in my office praying and thanking God for his grace, and pleading for his continued mercy in my life. As I look back over my life, I see God’s grace at work in my life in such ways that I cannot describe to you even how it is I am standing before you today. I am quite serious when I say I do not in any way deserve to be your pastor – or anyone’s pastor. I get quite uncomfortable when people praise me for what I do, knowing that it is only by the grace of God that I am who I am! It would help me this morning if someone would just say out loud, “By the grace of God, pastor!”
By the grace of God, indeed!!
As I look back on my life, I recognize what the old-timers used to call prevenient grace – that amazing grace of God that goes before, protecting from harm and paving the way to make it possible for us to accept the saving grace of God, which I found when quite young, and found again upon returning from a period of time when I had turned away from that grace. (It was after that time of being away and then returning that I realized I had been frustrating the grace of God, as Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20-2, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ has died in vain.)
It was amazing and prevenient grace that kept me from harm at the age of 1 ½ from the vehicles whizzing past me as I wandered out into the middle of a busy intersection. It was prevenient grace that kept me from danger from the pedophile that lived on our street and from the one that tried to pick me up while walking to school in the 3rd grade in Houston, Texas.
God’s grace went before and allowed me to come to him. I see many, many occasions when God spared my life, changed the direction I was headed by a conversation, by illness, by depression, by the love of my wife and family and were it not for the grace of God, I could not say with the Apostle Paul, “By the grace of God, I am what I am!”
I’ve learned a couple of things about amazing grace – I’ve learned that every time the grace of God is active, the Holy Spirit is present. On each occasion this week, as the grace of God has become evident, I look back and see that the precious Holy Spirit has been physically present and active. God’s grace is applied in our life by the present workings of the Spirit.
I’ve learned that the amazing grace of God is not to be understood as a scientific fact or legal description. It is not to be understood as a mere fact of knowledge – it is to be understood through a relational experience. It is not something we talk about and teach about without living in it. And that is the reason I’m not preaching today. You don’t need more knowledge. You don’t need more facts. You don’t need more teaching – even about the Bible. You need to know this grace through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Those of you under the sound of my voice today need to come to know Christ, not know more about Christ!