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Friday, June 13, 2008

The Grace of God

Scriptures: Eph 2:4-10, Rom 7:14-17

On Sunday, Jun 7th, Pastor Lorne touched on what a COTH member had said about feeling like they were being stretched. He said it reminded him of those old torture devices where they laid you down, tied up your wrists and ankles, and slowly turned the wheel so that when the rope tension increased, your body was painfully stretched. He said sometime we feel God is stretching us to do something we don’t feel like doing. But, he said there will be unimaginable blessings for you if you trust God and follow His will.

He said the topic of today’s message kept coming back to him although he’s shared it many times. He said his msgs on miracles, marriages and relationships were things we could work on but we still need the Grace of God.

Pastor Lorne said you’ve heard it many times - phrases like ‘It’ll take the Grace of God’. (or ‘There go I but for the Grace of God.’) He said we use that term but what does grace really mean?

He said he looked it up in Webster’s Dictionary and it gave these meanings:

- moving with grace - Pastor Lorne said not to associate that with him. (Laughter)
- a short prayer, usually said before a meal
- a girl’s name
- the unmerited love and favour of God to mankind
- divine influence working in a person to make the person pure, morally strong
- the condition of a person brought to God’s favour through this influence
- special virtue, gift, or help given to a person by God

And so, Pastor Lorne said, the word grace covers many areas but to us, it’s ‘the unmerited love and favour of God to mankind.’ That’s what grace is.
He said to open our Bibles to Eph 2 starting at v4 where we read, ‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.' This is what we believe. We’ve been saved by the grace of God. We receive grace because of His great love for us. It’s His own Spirit working in our lives to help us, direct us, and cause us to be right and morally strong.

Do you know that when you rely on the grace of God, it takes a lot of weight off you? Just think, if you lived your life and you knew there was a heaven to get into, and a hell to keep away from, and you had to do it on your own, you’d have a hard time! And there are many people who live that way.

Paul said he knew what was right. He wanted to do what was right. But he ended up doing what was wrong. (Rom 7:14-17) In v24 & 25, Paul writes, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!’

Scripture goes on to say in v8 of Eph ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.’ So, Pastor Lorne said, we are brought into a place where we are in favour of God. And your salvation has nothing to do with good works, how hard we try or what we can do. All we need is an open heart to accept grace. It is a gift of God.

You can’t say, ‘Well, I’ve emptied my pockets, given all I have, attended church conferences or even worked so hard for people while in the ministry’. That won’t get you into heaven. The Bible says that you cannot have a right relationship with God because of what you’ve done. It’s not a competition against your fellow man. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, said, or who you’ve tried to influence. At the end of the day, we’re all sinners saved by the grace of God.

How does this tie in with all the messages about families and marital relationships? The next scripture (Eph 2:10) says 'For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Pastor Lorne said that jumped out at him. He said he’s been in the ministry 46 yrs. And way back when, God had a job specially picked out for him. One person to do a specific job and it was picked out long ago. And so when we consider some of the things we have to do - like our relationship with our children where we want them to come to Christ it’s only by the grace of God that a difference can be made in their lives. Pastor Lorne added here that this was a big thing for him. He felt that we were losing some of our kids and he’s being praying that we could bring them all in to a personal relationship with God. And, he continued, it’s only by God’s grace that lives are changed and things like miracles happen in our lives.

Pastor Lorne said he trusts that you have truly experienced the grace of God in your life. He said maybe as you pray for the salvation of your neighbors and families, you wonder when it’s going to happen. He wanted you to know that the grace of God is all powerful and His mercy and His love can cross borders and distances and there’s nothing that can stand against it. So, he said, when you pray regardless of what it’s for, rely on the grace of God.

God will give you His grace so you can be a witness to that family member or person and you can stand for them in prayer.

Pastor Lorne brought our attention to 3 hymns in our Hymns of Glorious Praise hymnbooks that mentions God’s grace:

#154 - Saved by Grace (Chorus – And I shall see Him face to face)
#200 - Grace Greater Than Our Sin (chorus - Grace, grace, God’s grace)
And then we sang:
#206 – Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

Pastor Lorne closed the service with a prayer for the salvation of our families and courage for us to show others the grace of God.

If you would like to speak to Pastor Lorne about this, please email him.

Comments are appreciated. If you’re not sure how, please click on ‘comments’ under 'Labels' in the right column.

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