"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.'" (Exodus 34:6 NIV)
Now it seems long ago in some Sunday School class where we learned the definition of grace as "unmerited favor." The grownups who taught us figured that should settle everything in our little minds. However, it usually left more questions mainly because we didn't know what favor meant in the religious sense. We knew how to ask a friend to do us a favor like letting us play with their Superman cape. My brothers and I figured out early that you had to be a good friend before the rich kid would let you play with his stuff. We just didn't understand the theological implications that we really hadn't done anything to merit a favor.
We strongly desire leaders of our small towns, cities, states and the nation to be endowed with much wisdom and common sense. Sometimes in the heated debates of our election process, a particular candidate may be branded as one who changes their position. If a person is intelligent and they learn that an old position was wrong, don't we hope they will change? If they do change to the correct position, do we now shower them with our mercy or do we condemn them as flip-floppers? Large amounts of grace in the political arena will help bring the leaders of our country back to positions that are based on truth and what is best for the nation.
We have heard it said that whenever an official in a football game makes a penalty call, he is immediately 50 percent wrong to half of the fans. The other half praises his superior officiating skills and thinks he made a perfect call.
Large doses of grace are needed daily in our homes. A student decides to heed his mother's and teachers requests that he do some of his homework. He brings home a paper from school with an unsatisfactory mark and a strongly worded note that this student is not working to his ability. The mother begins to shout at the child to remind the boy that he should follow the example of his sister who is always doing her homework on time and with good marks. The boy didn't do anything to deserve mercy, but he could sure use some grace right now.
A couple has been married for about seven years and the husband has been quite the romantic. This year however, he slips up and forgets their anniversary. The wife got off work early and made plans for a baby sitter so they could go out to their favorite restaurant. The husband thinks it is just another day and he keeps working on his job to finish things up that needed to be done - like talking over the Superbowl game with his buddies.That man surely has not done anything to deserve unmerited favor. But, a nice dose of grace will keep an otherwise beautiful marriage in place for more years to come.
Many of the most beautiful and enduring hymns have to do with the matter of grace. Grace and salvation are inseparable. It is impossible to conceive of human salvation without acknowledging the vastness of God's grace. Who among the human race can honestly say that they have lived such a good and perfect life that they now deserve a home in Heaven? Rather than wearing our stiff upper lip look of condemnation, why not say to a down and out soul, "but for the grace of God, there go I."
We have most likely heard the life story of the man who penned the words of the now favorite American hymn, "Amazing Grace." John Newton's mother died when he was but seven years old and he was bounced from place to place. He would up as a troubled teenager working on slave ships in the 1700's. He was forced into the British Navy and continued to live and was flogged for insubordinate behavior. He contemplated suicide and mutiny. He told with great affection about the night of March 9, 1748 when he was saved during a violent and powerful storm. He gave God the credit for giving him a second chance in life. He became a powerful evangelist and a strong opponent of slavery.
Newton explained that he came up with the idea for the words of Amazing Grace based upon events in his own life. He also meditated upon the life of King David who was a great recipient of God's grace even though he was far from perfect. Newton came upon the inspirational words of David's prayer.
"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: 'Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O LORD God.'"(1 Chronicles 17:16-17 NIV)
God's grace is amazing when we consider how much we offend the perfect and loving nature of God by our sinful lives. God is willing to forgive us of the greatest sin, even when we cannot find it within ourselves to forgive a person who has injured us in some petty matter.When we were living in sin, God devised a plan to offer a pardon to all human beings who would accept the gift of His One and Only Son - Jesus Christ.
When we personally come to appreciate the implications of God's grace and forgiveness, it is the sweetest news in the entire world. It is news that will make us walk a few steps faster or break out in a big smile. God's saving grace is available to wash all sins away from those who will have faith in Jesus Christ. Act today with an obedient heart to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord. Jesus loves you - love Him back by believing that He is Son of God, and that He died on the Cross, was buried and later rose from the dead. Obey him in sincere repentance and baptism.
The apostle Paul urges Christians not to think that just because we have received the gift of God's grace, we are free to sin more and more because God will just provide more grace. We must live a gracious and obedient life so that we do not fall from grace.
You are invited to all services of the Church of Christ at the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Write me with any questions or comments. David Binkley, Sr., PO Box 186 Cedar Key, FL 32625. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit our web site at www.cedarkeychurchofchrist.com