Summary: God's math when it comes to grace.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2 – NIV)
15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? (Romans 5 – The Message)
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2 – NLT)
The Big Idea: Do you realize how different your life would be if you truly believed God’s word about His grace?
I grew up in Delta Community Baptist in Everett, Washington. Some of the best memories were made around the table at the seasonal potlucks. We had our share of women who loved to cook, and my family fit in well because we were poor and always hungry. It was the once-a-month potlucks that provided an occasion for me to really feast. Still today, one of my favorite meals is “potluck.”
Many of the events lived up to the meaning of their name – the cooks filled the pot and you took a chance. As the years rolled on, I learned which casserole dishes went with which cook. Mary V. was Hungarian; no disrespect to Hungary, but I could never seem to enjoy her fruit salad with ham in it.
When I was a small child my mom filled my plate. She was concerned about my diet and wanted to make sure I got healthy things like fruits and vegetables. But fortunately, as I got older and began to eat more, I was given the freedom to choose what I wanted. I grew concerned about getting more than my fair share of southern-style barbecue beans, crispy battered fried chicken and Louis Hinds’ Dutch apple crisp!
Our church potlucks were a festival of fried foods, a cornucopia of CorningWare and an onslaught of people in line who never sat in the pew. No blue ribbons were given for best pies or fried chicken, but there was always an unofficial bake-off for the women. For the men, one word describes the experience – pig-out!
While in college and seminary, I counted on these potluck meals as a budget strategy. Occasionally, some cute Southern Bell would show up with her red beans, and it was now about romance and red beans and rice.
Now here is how it worked for me for years: While others were baking ancient family recipes, I was rummaging through the cupboard wondering, “What do I bring this time?” My contribution to a potluck was historically and hysterically embarrassing – a partially eaten box of cookies, unopened Lays Chips, a can of tomato soup. I’d stick it in a big brown sack and formulate a plan to sneak it into the kitchen.
Then one of the Rachael Ray or Julia Child types would see me coming and welcome me, grab my humble contribution and place it on a long table with the rest of the food. Before I could turn red with embarrassment, they would shove a plate into my hand and say, “Don’t be shy, Kenny!”
Fried chicken. Roast Beef. Mashed potatoes. Then Pie. Cake. And cookies. I took a little of everything except what I brought.
From the wrong side of the tracks but on the right side of God’s grace, I strolled through a king’s feast. I came with almost nothing but ate like king.
Do you see the image? Christ does for each of us what Delta Baptist potluck queens did for me. God welcomes us to his family banquet by the virtue of his love, grace and mercy. It is not our meager chips, soup or partially eaten box of cookies that gain us access; in fact, anything we bring appears small at His table. The only prerequisite is that we admit we’re hungry. Our hunger for righteousness is not a need to be avoided, but a God-given desire to be celebrated.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6 – NKJV)
Do not dismiss your hunger, weakness or sin. Confess it. Why? Because God has already made a way for you.