Summary: The grace that God gives allows us to have a life that is full and abundant.
A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers 'the Little Flower' because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid illegal alcohol establishments with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids. One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.
Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions--ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Baliff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant." So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation. (Adapted from Sermon Illustrations.com)
What is grace?
Grace is undeserved blessing from God given to people.
In essence, grace is getting what you need rather than what you deserve. Grace is the active expression of God’s love for humanity. Grace is what every person desperately needs and what every heart secretly longs for. Often we fail to understand the depth of grace and gain from its embrace.
This morning we are starting a new series of messages on the subject of grace. Grace is one of the most important principles in scripture and it is vital that we have an accurate understanding.
Grace to Forgive
Grace to face your Past
Grace to face the Future
As a starting point for understanding the reality of grace, one of the most familiar verses in the Bible serves as a wonderful picture of God’s divine grace.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
God’s grace is revealed by His love
We should not be surprised that motivation for grace is the love of God. Everything that God does flows from His love. Every blessing God gives is an act of His love. All that God is and all that God does flows out of His divine love. The grace of God is an extension of His love for humanity. God loves everyone totally and without condition. God loves us in spite of our faults, failures and weaknesses.
There is no limit to the scope of God’s divine love. God loves and cares for every person the same. God may not love our behavior but He will always love the person.
God’s grace is revealed by His gift
God loves the world to such a degree that it is beyond our ability to comprehend. God sacrificed His own Son on our behalf. We never asked Him to do it. God’s grace is so vast that He did it without being asked. God sent Jesus because He knew the depth of our need.
Our choices have led us down some wrong roads from time to time. Every person here has done something they have known to be wrong. Like sheep we have all gone astray. Those mistakes have a name: sin. These mistakes have created a falling-out between us and God. The result is that we have become estranged with God but God acted to mend the rift and stop the estrangement. God sent Jesus to be the payment for sin. God sent Jesus to be the ultimate act of grace. God gave us what we needed and not what we deserved.