Are You Walking in Grace Today?

ComfortingTheoretically, I assume grace would come naturally to a sinless and selfless individual. But to all of us lawbreakers who feel guilt and shame in our lives, grace makes us nervous and unsettled. As weird as it may seem, grace almost feels wrong to us.

Take for example the parable of the laborers in Matthew 20.1-16 in which the landowner went out five times during the day to find laborers for his vineyard. The first men began work early in the morning, the second around 9 a.m., the third around noon, the fourth around 3 p.m., and the last at 5 p.m., leaving them only an hour or two of daylight in which to work. Those last men were called “about the eleventh hour,” Jesus said (Matt. 20.6). We use that phrase “eleventh hour” to mean “the very last minute.” Indeed, those men were called at the tail end of the day, and we law-abiding folk balk as the landowner handed every worker the exact same wage no matter how many hours he had worked!

“Not fair! Those who worked longer should have received more. Workers have rights, you know. You can’t give those sweaty, exhausted workers the exact same thing as to those men who lazed around most of the day.”

Oh really? Jesus demands that we consider it. Isn’t it up to the landowner to hire workers and pay them whatever he wants? If the workers agreed to the wages, they received what was fair.

Not only was the landowner fair, but he extended grace to those who worked fewer hours. He didn’t have to pay them a full day’s wage…but he did. It’s not that he wasn’t fair to the first men, it’s that he is more than fair with the last–and therein lies the message. Grace makes us squirm.

When your wife has left several obvious items at the house undone, when your children succumb to temptation and break your rules, when a man holds a sign on the side of the road “hungry, please help,” do you act in grace? Is grace your default, or is it something you must work at?

By the Grace of GodBecause of our sinful natures, grace is often difficult and not our default. Grace is truly being like God, and we have fallen from His nature; that image has been corrupted. Jesus is the exact image of the Creator, but we are not!

How have you responded to your husband / wife today? How have you dealt with your children recently? When your boss is cranky, what is your default reaction? When your employees don’t exactly measure up, how do you treat them? Humans mess up. God doesn’t. Yet see how He treats us in spite of our sins!

Are you walking in grace today? Or do you walk entirely by law? When people don’t measure up, do you prosecute (persecute?) them to the fullest extent of the law?

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1.17)

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3.21-26)

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6.14)

For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. (2 Cor. 1.12)

Think on these things.

Latest Sermons

We just updated the sermon archive to include the last two Sunday morning sermons:

How First Century Churches Used Collected Money (download)

What Is a Real Christian – Part 2: Complying with God’s Terms of Salvation (download)

Rebuilding the Old Altars

Standing AloneHow did I miss such an obvious key in the Mount Carmel battle between Yahweh and Baal? It stares me in the face now as I read 1 Kings 18, and I reckon it was there last time I read through it–unless someone slipped it in on me.

After the prophets of Baal finished their frenzied pleadings, gashing themselves with sharp swords and spears, and yelling for several hours, a terrible and significant nothing happened. Their god either wasn’t answering or he didn’t exist.

But what Elijah did next contains even more significance. He “repaired the altar of Yahweh that was broken down” (1 Kings 18.30).

Why was it broken down? King Ahab had married the witch, Jezebel, who had introduced idolatrous Baal worship into Israel with a passion. Ahab had all but wiped his kingdom of the reminders of the One True and Living God, Yahweh, the God of his fathers. The broken altar on Mount Carmel remained as a witness against Israel for turning their backs on their God.

Lone FlowerElijah repaired that altar. His business was to turn the people from their wicked ways and return them to Yahweh, their true God. Elijah prayed, “Yahweh God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that You are Yahweh God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again” (1 Kings 18.36-37).

The fire fell, consuming the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the water which soaked everything, and even the dust.

How else could the people respond? They cried, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!” (1 Kings 18.39)

Are we waiting for God to turn our hearts back to him? Do we stand in the crowd with arms folded to see if the True God is still around, if He is mightier than our idols? Will we submit to Him now, or will we wait for fire to come from heaven?

The spiritually-minded among us understand we must repair the altars of Yahweh! We must return to the old paths of worshiping Him and Him alone! Let us rebuild those things which have been torn down because of sin, for we have all turned our backs on Yahweh and allowed His things to be destroyed.

Lone FlowerOur country seems to think majority makes truth. Get enough people to raise their hands, and that’s the way it should be, right? Wrong! I asked my kids yesterday, “How many people must agree together before something is true?” My ten-year-old quickly replied, “None. It doesn’t matter how many people believe something, it doesn’t make it true.” Elijah was one standing against 850. But in reality the contest was between Yahweh, God of heaven and earth, and nobody, because the gods of this world are absolutely nothing! Worthless lies. Empty promises. Baal didn’t answer because Baal wasn’t there!

Will you blend into the crowd today or stand for God in the face of the crowd? With spiritual vision, can you see that those with Yahweh greatly outnumber those with other gods? Stand today and rebuild those things which have been torn down. You are not alone!

Byron Gage Sermons – March 2016

We recently hosted brother Byron Gage and his wife and enjoyed several excellent sermons. Here are the recordings from our meeting:

Out of Darkness (download):

Mind Hacked (download):

Encourage One Another (download):

Bear with One Another (download):