America has become a nation of debtors. Our government’s national budget deficit is approximately five trillion dollars. Credit card offers flood the mail boxes and television screens of the American people. Most people find it impossible to own a house or a car without taking out a loan. Nearly one million people will file personal bankruptcy this year because of their inability to pay back their debts.
I realize the topic is personal, but I need to talk to you about being overdrawn. (I know that has never happen to you all before).
Let’s just say your paycheck was late, and your landlord cashed your check to quickly.
You were going to make a deposit, but on your way out the door the phone ring, and it was your aunt from Minnesota and by the time you got to the bank to make your deposit it was closed and you didn’t know how to make a night deposit.
But regardless of the reason, the result is the same: INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. That phrase if not only famous at the bank, but it hangs the same hallways as:
I need new car, but I have to wait awhile - INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.
My tooth hurts bad, a root canal is necessary, but I have to wait a little while longer - INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.
Look girl, let’s stop dating, let’s just be friends - INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.
You are overdrawn. You gave more than you had to give. You spent more than you had to spend. And guess who has to cough up some cash?
Not the bank; they didn’t write the check.
Not the store; they didn’t make the purchase.
Not your Aunt in Minnesota; unless she’s got a soft spot in her heart for you.
In the grand scheme of things, you can make all the excuses you want, but a bounced check lands in the lap of the one who wrote it.
What do you do if you don’t have any money?
What do you do if you have nothing to deposit but an honest apology and good intentions?
You pray that some wealthy soul will make a huge deposit into you account.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would tell us that our debts had all been canceled and present us with a perfect credit record?
If you’re talking about your financial debt, that’s not likely to happen. But if you’re talking about your spiritual debt, however, it already has.
See God your Father has covered all your short falls with his grace. He spared no expense. It cost him the life of his only begotten son.
Those three words in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive our Debts”
The Greek word for debt has no mystery. It simply means “to owe someone something.”
If to be in debt is to owe someone something, isn’t it appropriate for us to speak of debt in our prayer, for aren’t we all in debt to God?
Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disobey his commands?
He tells us to go south and we go north.
He tells us to turn right and we turn left.
He tells us to love our neighbor, we hurt our neighbor.
He tells us to seek his will, we seek our will.
He tells us to forgive our enemies, but we attack our enemies.
WE DISOBEY GOD!
Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disregard him?
He makes the universe, and we applaud science.
He heals the sick, and we applaud the medicine.
He gives us possessions, and we salute human ingenuity.
He grants beauty, and we credit Mother Nature.
WE DISREGARD GOD.
Aren’t we in God’s debt when we disrespect his children?
What if I did to you what we do to God?
What if I shouted at your child in your presence?
What if I called him names or struck him?
You wouldn’t tolerate it. But don’t we do the same?
How does God feel when we mistreat one of his children?
When we curse at his offspring?
When we criticize a co-worker?
When we gossip about a relative.
When we speak about someone before we speak to them?
We disrespect his children!
Wait a second, Kenny.
You mean every time I do one of these things, I’m writing a check on my heavenly bank account?
That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m also saying that if Christ had not covered us with his grace, each of us would be overdrawn on that account.
A lot of folks think they can get into Heaven by doing good.
Which reminds me of a story about this active, dedicated, hard-working church member dreamed that he passed away after a long and satisfying life.
As he approached the Pearly Gates, he noticed a sign posted which read, "ENTRANCE REQUIREMENT: 1000 POINTS."
He looked worried. He walked up to the angel guarding the entrance into Heaven and said, "That requirement seems pretty high. Do you think I could possibly have accumulated that many points?
The angel kindly replied, "Well, why don’t you tell me what you have done, and we will see how many points you have." "Okay," the man said enthusiastically.
I was an deep believer in Christ for 32 years,
I had a perfect Sunday School attendance record for 14 straight years.
I taught a Sunday School class for over 12 years.
That’s wonderful!" said the angel. "Now let me see, that’s worth – one point."
The man suddenly became very pale and began to perspire, but he went on.
I tithed all my income, and sometimes even more.
I served as an elder in the church, and served on the finance committee and the building committee.
I attended every workday at the church; I mowed the grass and did repairs and painting.
I pitched in for church dinners,
I helped set up the chairs and tables and then stayed late and helped take them down.
I witnessed to friends and family and won quite a few people to Christ. I never cheated on my taxes."
The angel smiled sympathetically and answered the man politely, "Fine, fine. That’s good. That’s all worth another point. Now you have two."
The poor man looked as if were about to go into shock for a time, but he finally slumped his shoulders in acceptance and said, "I may as well give up." "I don’t think I can ever be good enough to get into Heaven.
In fact, it seems the only way we can get in is by the Grace of God."
"Ah, now," said the angel brightly. "Now you’re talking! That in itself is worth the whole 1000 points!"
At that point the man woke up from his dream. Though his bed was soaked in perspiration, he had a smile on his face and a whole new outlook on his Christian life.
A lot of us think like that. We think we can get into Heaven by doing good.
"Well I haven’t been a very bad person. I never killed anybody; I’ve never cheated on my spouse, or beat my children. I’ve never stolen anything. So I’m not such a bad person and I think God ought to let me into heaven when I die."
Now, be honest with yourself, you’ve thought along those lines before, haven’t you? I know, I have at times.
I’m not near as bad as the guy down the street or many other people I know, so I’m all right, right?
The problem with that theology is that when we think that way, we’re assuming that we ought to be rewarded for just doing what we’re supposed to do.
We think of obedience as something that we can be proud of.
But the Bible says that God expects obedience from us just because He’s our Creator.
Let’s turn to the 17th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, 9th & 10th verse.
17:9 “Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that
were commanded him? I trow not.”
17:10 “ So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things
which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have
done that which was our duty to do.”
In the 17th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus pointed out that servants don’t deserve special thanks just for doing the things they are supposed to do.
In fact, He said, "When you’ve done all you should, then say, ‘we are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.’" That is how Jesus said it.
The good things we do, we ought to do simply for the thankfulness of our Creator. In other words, there is no merit in doing the things that we are suppose to be doing.
Do we praise and pay tribute to our children for simply obeying us?
No, why? Because we just expect them to obey because they are children, and we are the parents.
One solitary sin, committed in a moment of weakness in the course of a long life of goodness, would be enough to put us in the hell.
Luckily for us, that’s where God’s grace comes in.
Jesus came to die for all of us who are in debt to God because of our sin.
When it comes to goodness we would have insufficient funds. Inadequate holiness. God requires a certain balance of virtue in our account, and it’s more than any of us has alone.
Our holiness account shows insufficient funds, and only the holy will see the Lord; so, what can we do?
Well, we can try making a few deposits.
Maybe if I compliment my wife or husband.
Maybe if I wave at my neighbor.
Maybe if I go to church next Sunday.
Maybe if I help someone along the way. I’ll get caught up.
But how do you know when you’ve made enough deposits?
How many trips do I need to make to the bank?
How much credit do I need?
When can I relax? That’s the problem. You never relax.
(Rom. 4:5), says, People cannot do any work that will make them right with God.”
So, if you’re trying to justify your own statement, forget ever having peace. You’re going to spend the rest of your days huffing and puffing, trying to get to bank before it closes.
Why? Because you’re trying to justify an account you can’t justify. May I remind you, that grace covers you. And it’s God who justifies.
God assigned himself the task of balancing your account. You cannot deal with your own sins.
(Mark 2:7), says, “Jesus, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” It’s not you!
How did God deal with you debt?
Did he overlook it?
He could have. He could have burned the statement. He could have ignored you bounced checks.
But would a holy God do that? Could a holy God do that? No, else he wouldn’t be holy.
Besides, is that how we want God to run his world? Ignoring our sin and thereby endorsing our rebellion?
Did he punish you for your sins?
Again, he could have. He could have crossed you name out of the book and wiped you off the face of the earth.
But would a loving God do that? Could a loving God do that?
He loves you with a everlasting love. Nothing can separate you from his love.
So, what did he do? (2 Cor. 5:19-21)
God put he world on himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering the forgiveness of sins....
In other words, “God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be made right with God.
Don’t miss what happen. He took your statement flowing with red ink and bad checks and put his name at the top.
He took his statement, which listed a million deposits and not one withdrawal, and put your name at the top.
He assumed your debt, you assumed his fortune. And that’s not all he did. He also, paid the penalty.
If you are overdrawn at the bank, a fine must be paid.
If you are overdrawn with God, a fine must be paid as well.
The fine at the bank maybe about twenty-eight dollars.
But the fine from God is hell.
Jesus not only balanced your account, he also paid the fine.
He took your place and paid the price for your sins.
(Gal. 3:13), says, “He changed places with us and put himself under that curse.”
No more sacrifice needs to be made.
No more deposits are necessary.
With one sacrifice, Jesus made your statement perfect.
Do you know what happens when you pay all you debts?
When you pay your last car payment.
When you pay your last house payment.
When you pay off all your credit cards.
Whenever that final installment is made, they’ll sent you a statement that says, “paid in full.”
Jesus used that same financial term when the died on the Cross for our sins.
I heard Jesus says in (St. John 19:30), “It is finished!
The ultimate payment has been paid. Your account has been paid in full!
Isn’t it good to know you don’t have to stand outside in the storm anymore.
“Well brother, I hear what you’re saying, but I’ve done a lot,
I’ve written a lot of bad checks. Is God’s grace big enough to cover me?
Well, it was big enough to cover Peter, who denied Christ.
God’s Grace was big enough to cover Paul, who persecuted Christ.
God’s Grace was big enough to cover the thief on the cross, who mocked Christ.
God’s Grace covered Daniel in the Lion’s Den.
God’s Grace covered the Hebrew boys, in the fiery furnace.
God’s Grace covered Daniel in the lion’s den
God’s Grace was big enough to cover me, when I was living a life of sin.
Though you spent a life time writing insufficient checks, God has stamped these words, on the top of your statement: MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU.
YOUR GRACE AND MERCY BROUGHT ME THROUGH, I’M LIVING THIS MOMENT BECAUSE OF YOU.
Picture, if you will, a blank check. the amount of the check is “sufficient grace”.
The signer of the check is Jesus.
The only blank line is for the payee.
That part is for you. I urge you to receive this check.
His sacrifice was for you. Express your thanks for his grace. Whether for the first time or the thousandth, let him hear you say, “forgive us our debts. And let him answer you prayer as you imagine writing your name on the check.