Summary: Continuing our look at the gift of God's grace. Part 5

Transforming Grace

Luke 19:1-10

April 14, 2019

When I’m joking with people, I will admit that one of my spiritual gifts is sarcasm and cynicism. Now, let me be clear . . . these are not spiritual gifts. But, I do believe I am pretty gifted in both of these areas.

I believe many of us are sarcastic and cynical about the things we see and hear in this world. I can add, many of us are skeptics. We’re not always a very trusting people. We doubt a lot of things, and one of the things that we doubt is transformation.

When someone is changed, when they are transformed, we tend to doubt the reality of their transformation. We think they are just saying a lot of the right things in order to get something from us. One of the things that is interesting is to watch videos which detail the transformation of people.

There was a man named Nicky Cruz. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico where his parents practiced withchcraft and his mother mentally abused him; calling him "son of satan." The neighborhood in which he lived was one of the worst in Puerto Rico and Cruz was always getting into trouble. When he was 15, his parents sent him to New York City to live with his borther. But Cruz ran away and joined the Mau Maus gang, eventually becoming the leader.

Eventually, he heard David Wilkerson preaching in the neighborhood and the first two times, Cruz heard Wilkerson preach he slapped him and threatened his life. But Wilkerson told Cruz, "Jesus loved him and would never stop loving him."

Later, Wilkerson organized an evangelistic meeting in the neighborhood with the intent of converting the Mau Maus. Wilkerson sent a bus to pick up the gang and after arriving Cruz explained he began to feel guilty about the things that he had done and began to pray.

Wilkerson asked the Mau Maus to take up a collection. After the collection, the gang wanted to steal the money, but Cruz convinced the group to give the money to Wilkerson on stage. When Wilkerson gave an altar call, a large number of gang members went forward, including Cruz who asked God to forgive him.

Afterward, Cruz and some of the gang members who believed in Jesus went to the police and turned in all of their weapons - - handguns, knives and more. In the end, Cruz went to Bible College and started his own ministries.

We may not have a story like Nicky Cruz’s, but we all have a story. We all have a story to tell about how Christ came into our lives and how His presence changes us today and will tomorrow.

We are on Week 5 of our look into Grace. And as we look at GRACE, we’re looking at how God transforms us into new creations, people who are transformed because we believe Jesus came into this world and died for us and as we celebrate next week . . . rose again to show us that He broke the power death has on us.

One of the beautiful and powerful aspects of the transforming power of Jesus is the fact that He can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.

And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. – Ezekiel 36:26-27

This is true transformation. You go from being angry and mean to being kind, from being greedy to being generous, from being self-obsessed to being others-centered, from bitter and unforgiving to becoming gracious. This type of transformation is available to every follower of Jesus Christ ... if you'll take the first step and recognize your need for change.

Jesus said...

31 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31-32

The problem is the fact that most of us go through life believing we’re not the sick ones. We point to others, and say, “Oh, they need to hear that message.” The signs are all around us; we’re trapped in bad habits, destructive behavior, imploding relationships, sinful activities - - - yet we think, “I'm OK, you’re not!!”

Jesus said, "I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance," and the truth that goes along with that statement is what Paul said in Romans 3:10 - - that there is nobody who is righteous, not even one.

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