Jan 16 2022 God's Amazing Grace
16th January 2022
Lord, we pray for the Coopers – Dick’s father passed away yesterday. Lord, speak to our hearts. Help me to share the thoughts You want communicated
I hope you got to watch the Bible Project video – if not – here it is:
We have been going through the five attributes of God – I’ve gotten a lot out of their podcast – so I have been sharing what I have learned from them. They would be happy to know it is getting out.
Ex. 34:6 The LORD passed by before him and proclaimed: "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,
Today, we are talking about the second attribute – Grace. Grace is often tied to compassion. Grace is a religious word – not one you would hear at your job – it is not used very much – and because it is a religious word, it might cause us a little trouble, in that it might cause us to interpret it through the spiritual vein. There are numerous words used in the Bible to describe Grace – gracious/favor – only a handful of times does it appear as the word Grace in the Old Testament – but many times in the New.
Outside of the religious context – we might say someone is a gracious host – kind/thoughtful – knowing what his/her guest would need.
We might talk about gracious speech –
Then we might use the word graceful – like ballet/gymnast – or even a basketball player –
And all those concepts of grace come up in the Bible.
For Christians, our familiarity with the biblical concept of grace is both an advantage and a disadvantage. This next verse is pretty much the grace verse:
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Grace is connected with our salvation – and we tend to see the verse only – grace – as being connected to our salvation and going to heaven – and it is that – and that is important – but there is much more meaning that we might miss
Romans 3 speaks of the same thing:
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (Rom 3:24 NASB)
Again – connected to our salvation – but there are two words – Grace and gift – and they are connected throughout the New Testament – and in many ways – could be interchanged. Grace is a gift – the gift of God.
There is an understanding gap between our view of gift-giving and the Bible’s perspective on it.
We give gifts for many reasons – birthdays/Christmas/graduation – sometimes just for the fun of it.
Then there are hospitality gifts – flowers or a gift to the host –
Gifts are showing love.
In the ancient world, gift-giving had huge cultural meaning. It was not just being thoughtful – establishing order/structure/status.
Unmerited – but always came with obligations. We don’t think that way.
It came with an obligation of gratitude and loyalty. The one who received the gift was to publicly proclaim the gratitude and loyalty of the gift-giver.
I met Dave for lunch – and he told me he was buying me lunch – and I wanted to proclaim his graciousness, since I have been studying this!
This is literally what was done.
The ‘credit score’ of someone in the Greco-Roman world was not their ability to pay off their debt, but their ability to proclaim the loyalty and honor of the giver.
The Bible is not saying we should be like that – but it is important to understand this grace in this context so we can understand what God has done.
True understanding of Grace will naturally produce a heart of gratitude and loyalty. If we really understand the gift, what was required in their culture will be the natural result.
If we do not respond with gratitude and loyalty, we probably don’t understand what grace really is! I don’t think we can help but be grateful – there is this outpouring of gratitude because of God’s grace.
We can give a THING without giving a gift – and all of us have done that! We have all given things because it was expected – and it wasn’t from a heart of love and thoughtfulness.
But also, we can receive a thing without receiving a gift! All of us have done that as well.
John 3:16 God so loved that He gave us salvation? Heaven? What does it say? Only Son. The gift of God to us is a person – and with that person comes salvation – comes heaven – and we think we are good to go.
In the Roman world – through the giving and receiving of gifts, people enter into relationship – yes, it was order and status. But for us, when we receive God’s gift – we enter into a relationship of love! We can’t receive a gift of a person – Jesus – and leave it in the closet like something you didn’t really want.
As we think of God’s grace – it is God giving us Himself – so the natural response is to continue, maintain, and develop this relationship with Him.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
The word grace comes up a lot there. Jesus is God’s grace. For us – ultimately – switching to looking at grace practically – Jesus is our example of how to offer grace! We express grace – we read the gospels to see how Jesus did it and try to follow His example.
Pray for Grace
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me. (Psalm 27:7 NASB)
Be gracious to me, O Lord, For to You I cry all day long.
(Psalm 86:3 NASB)
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! Thou hast relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
(Psalm 4:1 NASB)
God’s grace is always available – but God wants us to cry out to Him for it. God, you know, it is kind of like – we looked at compassion – and God being like a nursing mother. Like a mom – or a grandparent – or a dad – responds to the cry of a baby – you are there right now!
I got to sing to our littlest grandchild.
My granddaughter was playing on the floor – and I went up and started talking to her – and she realized – when this guy is here – I’m supposed to be picked up! SO she started crying – and I picked her up - . God is like that – he wants to hear our cry for grace.
What gift do you need God to give you? What gift do you need from God today? Cry out to Him for that gift.
Grace/mercy/favor - interchangeable.
Jesus - son of David - have mercy on us!
They keep crying out - and He heals them!
The prayers of the people of the Bible are much less respectful than ours - we think there is some etiquette - but some of the Psalms are prayers of desperation - argumentative - they almost sound annoying!
Other times, there are prayers of adoration and blessing.
Walter Brueggemann - when we pray happy respectful prayers - when our world turns upside-down - we are doing something very different than what the Bible does.
God wants us to cry out like a baby - a baby doesn't think - am I crying out respectfully? They have a need - and want someone to meet that need.
Ps. 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.
Just like compassion - the receiving of grace will require patience - waiting and looking. They keep looking until it happens.
Sometimes it takes a while for that to happen - and we need to continue looking to Him.
Giving to the Poor
It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment. (Psalm 112:5 NASB)
He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. (Proverbs 14:31 NASB)
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed. (Proverbs 19:17 NASB)
We express grace by giving to the poor - to those in need. We express God's unmerited favor in doing this.
When God gave us His grace, we were poor and needy.
Three quick ways? GIve to those who cannot return the favor - when you invite, don't just invite those who will invite you back.
Second - some thoughts of my own - though it is good and important to give to organizations who give to the poor and needy - I think it is tremendously valuable to give to specific people - people you are in relationship with.
Sometimes it is easy to NOT give to someone with whom you are in a relationship.
Also - it is good - every now and then - when God nudges - to give to a total stranger whom you will never see again. Some doing this have entertained angels, the Bible tells us.
There are 3 books that emphasize grace the most -
Romans - mentioned 20 times - the whole book is about grace.
Corinthians - 16 times
Ephesians- 12 times - in crucial places.
What is interesting - all of those books are dealing with tremendous division in the church
They are the books with a need for unity - and within - there is a huge emphasis placed on grace.
What if - our country - over the next year - became a country of grace? With a mid-term election - that is not going to happen, is it?
What this does - it allows us to think through - what if the church - Christians - became the people of Grace? Gracious speech? What if gracious speech filled our lives?
We need to start with one another.
He who loves purity of heart And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend. (Pro 22:11 NAU)
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Col. 4:6 NASB)
Romans 14: Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. (NASB)
2 For instance, one person believes it's all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. (NLT)
1 Cor 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God
for us that might mean - give no offense to people of color - or to white folks - or to Christians - that might seem odd - there are plenty of Jews and Greeks in the church of God - progressives/conservatives/Christians? Fundamentalists/Evangelicals/Traditionals?
1 Cor 10: 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
What would it be like? Jeff talked about a Church Called Tov back in September - Goodness - being Good - Do no harm! When it relates to all the divisiveness - do no harm - Give no offense - do no harm - because there is something much more important than your perspective - there is a bigger gift to present - the grace of God.