Summary: God is seeking a relationship with you.

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Most of us in this sanctuary may have the awesome responsibility of being married to another human being - someone so special we don’t want to live without them. As part of the marriage ceremony, we made a covenant, an agreement to love and honor each other until death parts us. It is a serious agreement; not to be taken lightly by either party and one holding much responsibility.

If I were to give you time to share how you met your spouse and to describe your courtship, everyone would have similar tales…. I am sure many of you in this room remember the TV series, The Walton’s. My grandparents reminded me of them. Zeb, the grandfather would constantly make passes, whisper in her ear, make her blush and try to smooth talk Esther. He affectionately called her "the old woman"………. When my grandfather Arthur Reeve was alive, he would entertain us at family gatherings with his "courting" stories of Bernice Mawson. Grandma would smile and interject the parts Grandpa “missed.”

Born to the mayor of Jacksonville, IL, my grandfather liked his STAG beer but also became a good race car driver, much to the dismay of my great-grandfather. During one of the races, my grandfather was injured and lost his left eye; however, he recovered. He later would become one of the most successful farmers near Jacksonville, in Morgan County.

Grandma was a dedicated wife and mother of 11 children. She was a faithful member of the Centennial Methodist Church and that is where she met Charles Arthur Reeve. During family reunions, Grandpa Reeve would tell how he courted Bernice in his rattletrap buggy and his faithful horse Jezebel. Often, Mauvisterre Creek would flood with water swirling around Jezebel’s knees, and he would have to unhitch Jezebel and ride to the Mawson farm bareback. He would often relate how they would sit on the porch, help with chores, walk hand in hand down the farm lane, or attend Sunday evening services together, Grandpa tried and tried to convince Bernice to marry him...for she was the girl of his dreams. It took 2 years for her to finally accept; after all she did not want to give up her comfortable, $15 00 a week job at Klines Dept Store and enter into an uncertain and fearful relationship. "After all," she was fond of saying," your grandpa was still a stranger." His perseverance during early 1916 enables me to stand before you now.

Through 52 years of marriage they put up with each other; though thick and thin…. through loss of children…and through good times and bad. But you know, they met the Lord still loving each other very deeply.

Grandpa pursued Grandma, finally persuading her to enter into a covenant of marriage with him. They depended on each other….their faith….their love for God…. and they persevered. They knew the head of their household was Jesus Christ, and they never let their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren forget it. Grandpa had pursued Grandma much the way God pursues us. As followers of Christ, our number 1 priority should be to be in relationship with Him.

God made us for that purpose. Ephesians 1:4-10 says: "For God chose us before the creation of the world" love God chose us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, according to His will.

This morning we are going to talk a little bit about God’s Grace. This free and unconditional love has several different parts, and the first part is "prevenient". Just like the parts of a marriage, prevenient grace is the "courtship" of God seeking us to begin a relationship with Him.

Let’s take a look at this PREVENIENT GRACE and see what it really means: Here are some key words:

1) Covenant-is an agreement made by 2 or more people, one agreeing to provide protection or help and the other for loyalty.

2)Pre--is Latin for before.

3)Venia—means to go-- so Prevenient means, "To Go Before". God speaks to us, wanting us to be close enough to Him to call Him, Abba (daddy or papa) since we are his children. Traditionally, God is referred to as a father but this morning I would like for you to Picture God as the most loving person whom you ever known, the one that you trust completely and who you know is always, always there for you. For that is truly WHAT and WHO God IS. He keeps after us until we accept Him as Lord and Savior. He pursues us in love, just like Grandpa pursued Grandma Reeve. God’s pursuing or "wooing" us is also called - prevenient or beginning.

3) Grace -God’s love toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts and strengthens our wills.

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