Monday, November 26, 2012

Grace Revival

I was invited to preach at an old time Saturday all day revival.  It was on my heart to talk about grace, love, and acceptance of all people.  Here it is:

Hello all my brothers and sisters.  It’s wonderful to be here with ya’ll today to worship our Lord, to break bread together, and to love each other.  It’s amazing to think how awesome all this is, considering we are all base sinners.

 Does that shock you?  All these wonderful preachers and muscians that have come before you today.  They are sinners too.  I am.  We all are.  See we have all sinned and fallen short of the Lord.  I don’t care that we all try to be good, do good works, and go to church or come out here in fellowship.  We can never measure up to earn our way to heaven.  I always think of those signs  at rides at theme parks that say, “you must be this tall to ride this ride.”  I remember when I was a kid at Six Flags in Dallas being mad that I was just an inch shy and couldn’t ride the ride.  Anyone else ever have that experience?  Have you ever wanted to be included in a group, a club, or an organization, but never quite fit in, measured up, or was good enough, popular enough to be included?  Then I’m talking to you today.  If you are one of the popular, successful people who never experienced any of what I’m talking about, then I’m really talking to you today!

My friends, we live in a fallen world, we live in a sinful state.  None of us deserve eternal life with our Holy God.  The ancient Hebrews understanding of the word Holy is “set apart” .  God is Holy, He is set apart, he is perfect Goodness and perfect Love and perfect Justice.  No human being can measure up.  We are always divided and set apart from God’s Holiness as we cannot be purely good, show perfect love, or live according to the law.  We cannot live without sin.  We can try.  We can devote our lives to living as good as we can, but we always fall short of perfection.  Some of us may live better than others, and some of us don’t even try.  My prayer is for those of us that know we need to change and need help, and for those of us who think they don’t.  We all sin.

So what is sin? Dictionaries often define it as a transgression against a religious or moral law; deliberate disobedience to the will of God; or a condition of estrangement from God resulting in disobedience that is often shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.

My understanding is that sin is when mankind makes a choice to be disobedient to God’s will, to separate from Him, to live without Him, to break the relationship with God.  We do this by choosing to do things that hurt our relationship with God.  When we put other things before doing His will, we hurt that relationship.  For instance, we may choose sex, work, drinking, drugs, or anything that is purely ego-centric that does nothing to further the kingdom of God.  These things may be crimes, but they do not have to be.  Sins may be small sins like lying, lusting, addictions but it could also be murder and rape. Big or small, they are all sins.  They all violate the holiness of God and hurt our relationship with Him.

Adam and Eve willingly sinned against God.  They made a choice to taste the Tree of Knowledge, and in so doing broke the relationship man had with God.  If a wife or husband lies to their spouse, does this hurt the marriage relationship?  Of course it does.  The same is true here.  To make sin even worse, it is in direct opposite of God’s Love.  In effect God cannot look upon sin, as it is an anathema to His divine character. 

So man chooses to break the relationship with God, to deny God’s will for our lives, to live in a selfish, egotistical lifestyle that is man centered, not God centered.  So now God cannot look upon us, as man has basically divorced himself from God.  Sin has caused the death of man, the end our spiritual relationship with God, and the death of our bodies.  And don’t think that Christians are immune to sin!  Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of God.”  Sin is universal.  Romans 5:12 states “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned.”  Those who live self-righteous, outwardly pious lives are not better than anyone else in God’s eyes, as “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).  So we chose to live apart, to not follow God’s will, and selfishly seek our own earthly things such as power, money, sex, and influence.  This all leads to death, destruction, and nothing we make or do on this earth will last forever.  So what can we do about it?  What can Man do?  Nothing!  It is not in our power to fix this problem.  This is what we mean by man living in a fallen state. You can’t be good enough, do enough, love enough, sacrifice enough, tithe enough, to earn your way to heaven, or to heal the broken relationship with God.

But like a good parent, God allowed us to try.  He created the Law and allowed man to try to live righteous lives under it, to sacrifice, to tithe, to keep His commandments.  But it was impossible.  Man couldn’t do it, and the Old Testament proves mans failure at this time and time again.  The problem is that now that we have knowledge of Good and Evil, sin is beguiling, enticing, sexy, and deceitful.  It makes us believe that we don’t need a relationship with God.

So, the relationship is broken, we can’t fix it, all mankind is doomed for our own love of the earthly things.  Do are we eternally doomed to death?  Is the God of Love done with us?  Is there no hope?

My friends I bring you Good News!  The Greatest News ever shared.  All your sins are forgiven.  All your brokenness may be healed.  God became human, lived amongst us, experienced our emotions and feelings, taught us wisdom, and then died brutally on a cross meant for you and me as punishment for our sins.  He was an innocent lamb, sinless, but sacrificed so that you and I may be reestablished in a personal relationship with God.  We are redeemed in the blood of the lamb.  Forgiven, the sins which once stained us, are clean, our chains are broken, we are set free.

  See, the greatest love ever shown was given to humanity by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Because through it all, everything truly goes back to God seeking us.   It’s not what man has done to reach God.  It’s what God has done to reach us.

  God wanted a relationship with us. He wanted us and loved us so much, that he sent a part of Himself to become human to repair our relationship with him. Think about this. It’s all about God seeking Man. It is not about what man can do to achieve or be worthy of God. In Christianity there is nothing we human beings can do to be worthy of Heaven, of a relationship with the Creator of everything. He sought us and is still seeking us. That’s amazing and one of a kind in the religions of the world. That’s Grace. God seeking us. God seeking you.

 Hear me once more, as I want to make this perfectly clear: Jesus, though fully human, was sinless. He was obedient to God’s will and as such became the sacrifice necessary to pay the costs of our sins (death), so that we might have eternal, glorious life with God. He died on a cross for the redemption of our sins. He paid the cost of our sins. My sins. Your sins.

He suffered and died on that cross for me, for you, for all humanity for all times and places. But you want to hear something that will blow your mind? He would have done it just for you. If you were the only one willing to follow him, accept him, he would have suffered all that, for you.

As he was dying, he asked God to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And he died. 

Three days later he was resurrected and defeated sin and death, thereby establishing a permanent relationship between people who accept Him into their heart and the God of everything.  Remember that God couldn’t look upon sin?  Once you accept Christ as your savior, accept Him to live within you, you become a changed person.  Christians say you have been reborn.  Now when God looks upon you, he sees Christ.  Your sins have been forgiven, you have been redeemed, the eternal relationship between God and man has been restored.

With Christ you do measure up.  You can be part of the Body of Christ.  God is calling each of us.  No sin is too great for God to heal, to restore us into that relationship our hearts yearn for. 

God Seeking Us. God Seeking you. That’s grace. Do you have grace? Do you know him? Do you want to? Simply ask Him into your life.  Tell Him you want a relationship with Him.  Perhaps you have never truly known the love of Christ.  Perhaps you have gone through the motions of Christianity, but have never truly understood or accepted his gift of grace.  That tug you feel upon your heart is God talking to you.  Remember none of us are good enough.  No not one.  But through Jesus all are made perfect, all are redeemed.    Everyone one of us is offered the gift of grace.  It is not a society of saints that Jesus seeks. Matthew 11:19  speaks of Christ being The Son of Man, feasting and drinking, and you say, 'He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!' But wisdom is shown to be right by its results."  Mathew 9:13 says, “Go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Jesus came to seek and save what was lost, Let me finish with this from 1st timothy: “This is a faithful statement and worthy of our full acceptance, To this world the Messiah came, sinful people to reclaim.”

No one is worthy of God’s love, but he loves us anyway.  All of us. You don’t have to look right, dress right, vote right, have the right job, live the best life.  You can be the absolute worst amongst us, and God will forgive you.  He will show you grace.  He will accept you and love you.

You will be amazed at the transformation, the peace, and the hope and the joy that He offers you.

Please consider this Good News and wherever you go, share the love of Christ with everyone you meet.


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