UNDERSTANDING THE GRACE OF GOD #1
In his book "In the Grip of Grace" Max Lucado writes:
In my first church, we had more than our share of southern ladies
who loved to cook. I fit in well because I was a single guy who
loved to eat. Our potlucks were major events.
I counted on those potluck dinners for my survival. While others
were planning what to cook, I was studying my kitchen shelves to
see what I could offer. The result was pitiful: one of my better
offerings was an unopened sack of chips, another time I took a
half-empty jar of peanuts.
Wasn't much, but no one ever complained. Those ladies would take
my jar of peanuts and set it on the long table with the rest of
the food and hand me a plate. "Go ahead. Don't be bashful. Fill
up your plate." And I would! Mashed potatoes and gravy. Roast
beef. Fried chicken. I came like a pauper and ate like a king!
The apostle Paul would have loved the symbolism of those
potlucks. He would say that Christ does for us precisely what
those women did for me.
In his sermon "Why Christ Had to Die," author and pastor Stuart
Many years ago when the children were small, we went for a little
drive in the lovely English countryside, and there was some fresh
snow. I saw a lovely field with not a single blemish on the
virgin snow. I stopped the car, and I vaulted over the gate, and
I ran around in a great big circle striding as wide as I could.
Then I came back to the kids, and said, "Now, children, I want
you to follow in my footsteps. So I want you to run around that
circle in the snow, and I want you to put your feet where your
father put his feet."
Well, David tried and couldn't quite make it. Judy, our
overachiever, was certain she would make it; she couldn't make
it. Pete, the little kid, took a great run at it, put his foot in
my first footprint and then strode out as far as he could and
fell on his face. His mother picked him up as he cried.
She said to me, "What are you trying to do?"
I said, "I'm trying to get a sermon illustration."
I said, "Pete, come here." I picked up little Peter and put his
left foot on my foot, and I put his right foot on my foot. I
said, "Okay, Pete, let's go." I began to stride one big stride at
a time with my hands under his armpits and his feet lightly on
Well, who was doing it? In a sense, he was doing it because I was
doing it. In a sense there was a commitment of the little boy to
the big dad, and some of the properties of the big dad were
working through the little boy.
In exactly the same way, in our powerlessness we can't stride as
wide as we should. We don't walk the way we should. We don't hit
the target the way we ought. It isn't that at every point we are
as bad as we could be. It's just that at no point are we as good
as we should be. Something's got to be done.
The message of is it has been done. You can be justified. You can
be saved from wrath. You can be saved by his life. All that is
the message of grace - God offering you what you don't deserve.
In "Pursuit" author and evangelist Luis Palau writers:
Thank God His grace isn't "fair." A couple of years ago, one of
my nephews (I'll call him Kenneth) was near death. He had AIDS.
During a family reunion in the hills of northern California,
Kenneth and I broke away for a short walk. He was a hollow shell,
laboring for breath.
"Kenneth, you know you're going to die any day," I said. "Do you
have eternal life? Your parents agonize. I must know." "Luis, I
know God has forgiven me and I'm going to heaven."
For several years, since his early teens, Kenneth had practiced
homosexuality. More than that, in rebellion against God and his
parents, he flaunted his lifestyle.
"Kenneth, how can you say that?" I replied. "You rebelled against
God, you made fun of the Bible, you hurt your family terribly.
And now you say you've got eternal life, just like that?"
"Luis, when the doctor said I had AIDS, I realized what a fool
"We know that," I said bluntly, but deliberately, because Kenneth
knew full well that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is
sin. "But did you really repent?"
"I did repent, and I know God has had mercy on me. But my dad
won't believe me."
"You've rebelled in his face all your life," I said. "You've
broken his heart."
Kenneth looked me straight in the eye. "I know the Lord has
"Did you open your heart to Jesus?" "Yes. Luis! Yes!"
As we put our arms around each other and prayed and talked some
more, I became convinced that Jesus had forgiven all of Kenneth's
rebellion and washed away all his sin....
My nephew, like the repentant thief on the cross, did not deserve
God's grace. I don't either. None of us do. That's why grace is
grace - unmerited favor.
GRACE from "Swindoll's Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes"
CYNTHIA AND I were on vacation at Sea World with some of our
children and grandchildren. It is always amazing to watch those
brave men and women who dive in the tank with Shamu the whale and
other big creatures. I thought, "That whale is so gracious not to
put them into eternity with just a nudge of her nose." In fact,
you get the feeling at times that they are fed handfuls of fish
just to placate them, just to keep them in a real good mood so
that when the trainers get in the tank they'll be able to get out
of the tank a little later on. And I watched as they hung on to
their fins and tried to get their arms around those big bodies.
The subject of grace is like that-a big subject to try and get
your arms around or to get a hold on.
TO SEEK TO EARN, merit, or purchase salvation is to insult the
Giver. Imagine yourself invited to a banquet in the White House
by the president of the United States. You are seated at a table
that is filled with the choicest foods. Every effort is made to
give you a most enjoyable evening. At the end of a lovely visit,
the president stands at the front door to bid you good-bye.
What do you do? As you leave, do you press a dime into his hand
and say, "Thank you very much for your kindness. I have enjoyed
the evening very much. I realize it has cost you a lot of money,
and I want to help you pay for the meal"?
Is that the proper response to his kindness? On the contrary, it
is a rude and insulting gesture. So it would be with God's grace.
William MacDonald, "The Grace of God"
THE BIBLE IS A PHOTO ALBUM filled with pictures of God's grace.
One striking image is found in the pages of 2 Samuel. The setting
is the palace of King David. Gold and bronze fixtures gleam from
the walls. Lofty, wooden ceilings crown each spacious room. In
the banquet room, David and his children gather for an evening
meal. Absalom, tanned and handsome, is there, as is David's
beautiful daughter Tamar. The call to dinner is given, and the
king scans the room to see if all are present. One figure,
though, is absent.
Clump, scraaape, clump, scraaapc. The sound coming down the hall
echoes into the chamber. Clump, scraaapc, clump, scraaapc.
Finally, the person appears at the door and slowly shuffles to
his seat. It is the lame Mephibosheth seated in grace at David's
table. And the tablecloth covers his feet. Now the feast can
Grace in a Barren Place
I was that Mephibosheth
Crippled by my twisted pride and hiding from you in a barren
You could not find me where
You would not give me what I deserved.
But somehow You found me and
I don't understand why but
You give me what I do not deserve.
You not only spared my desolate life but
You made it bountiful
And here at Your table I will thank You,
ONE AFTERNOON I was too lazy to wash my little red Volkswagen
convertible. Now you really have to be lazy not to wash half a
car on an entire afternoon. So I said to my two younger children,
"I'll give you 75 cents to wash the car." (I'm known as the last
of the big-time spenders.) And so my younger son, Chuck, walked
inside and turned up his nose as if to say, "Who in the world
wants to wash a car for 75 cents?" So I turned to Colleen, our
younger daughter, and I said, "Honey, I'll give you $1.50 if you
wash it." Well, she quickly took out the bucket and the brush and
the hose and started in. Worked on it for an hour or so. Did a
terrific job. Then she called me out front for two reasons. One
was to see how clean it was, and the other was to pick up her
Chuck came along. Since it was time to dole out the money, he
told me he had encouraged his sister. If I had given him even a
dime, that would have been a grace gift. For me to pay her $1.50
was a wage. She earned it.
HUMPTY DUMPTY had an unsolvable problem. We have a problem too,
but ours has a solution.
Jesus Christ came to our wall,
Jesus Christ died for our fall;
So that regardless of death and in spite of sin,
"Through grace, He might put us together again.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO my family and I were enjoying an evening at a
restaurant. We looked over in the corner and saw a couple from
our church. We waved at 'em and they winked back in our
direction. And just before they left they came by our table,
shook hands and said "Hi." When our meal was over, I got up and
walked to the cash register and said, "I didn't get a check for
our meal." They said, "Oh, well, you don't have to worry about it
because someone else paid for it." I asked, "Who paid for it?"
They said, "Well, we don't know who they are, but they were the
couple that walked over and said 'Hello' to you." I was
astonished, but said, "Well, why don't I take care of the tip?"
"No, that was all taken care of too." It was paid in full. I had
the hardest time accepting that. I wanted to go home and call
them up and say, "Hey, why don't I split it halfway with you?"
There was another fellow who that year wanted to give us a
present of washing all the windows in the house - inside and out.
I had the hardest time saying, "Fine, do it all." I was pacing up
and down, wondering what I could do to pay him back. It's
difficult to accept something absolutely free. We think there's a
gimmick or we think there's something we must do to pay our way.
God's grace says, "I've picked up the tab. I'll take care of
everything inside and out. Accept it. Believe it. It's a declared
"Do this and live!" the Law demands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word God's grace does bring,
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Kenneth Wuest, "Romams in the Greek New Testament"
IT WOULD SEEM ... that grace is what happens between two persons.
It is one giving himself to the other. It is responsibility to
another. It is a distinctive kind of relating. In a world of men
turning their backs on one another, exploiting one another,
killing one another, gossiping about one another, trying to
possess one another, and controlling one another, grace is one
person accepting and confronting another in freedom and
R. Lofton Hudson, "Grace Is Not a Blue-Eyed Blond"
He Givelh More
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Annie Johnson Flint, quoted in John R. Rice, "Poems That Preach"
THE BIBLE SAYS WE ARE ALL SINNERS - WE HAVE BROKEN THE
LAW OF GOD. IT IS LIKE A POLICEMAN GIVING YOU A
SPEEDING TICKET FOR BREAKING THE SPEEDING LAW. NO AMOUNT
OF NOW KEEPING THAT LAW CAN ERASE THE PENALTY OF
BREAKING IT. THE JUDGE WOULD LAUGH AT YOU IF YOU TRIED
TO SAY THE SPEEDING TICKET SHOULD NOT BE CHARGED ON
YOU, FOR YOU HAVE OBEYED THAT LAW 1,000 TIMES BEFORE.
NOW THE JUDGE COULD SAY, "I HAVE A SON WHO IS PAYING
THE SPEEDING FINE FOR YOU."
NOW THAT IS GRACE GIVEN TO YOU WHEN YOU DID NOT
Keith Hunt - Feast of Atonement 2012
To be continued