*THE AMAZING GRACE OF GOD Psalm 86:15, Isaiah 30:18

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1 *THE AMAZING GRACE OF GOD Psalm 86:15, Isaiah 30:18 God s grace is a hard concept for most people to understand. You hear things like, There's no such thing as a free lunch or If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is or God helps those who help themselves. Americans believe in the American work ethic. You get what you deserve. That makes it very hard for most of us to relate to the fact that God is a gracious God. He wants to give us what we don t deserve. *Look at Psalm 86:15 "You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God." NIV Grace means God gives me what I need, not what I deserve. The Bible says that it is God's nature to bless undeserving people. He loves to do it. *Look at Isaiah 30:18 "The Lord longs to be gracious to you." NIV God loves to be gracious to us. His grace is unlimited and unending. There are many amazing blessings that come to us by God's grace, but we are just going to look at three ways that His grace makes a big difference in our life. *1. GOD'S SAVING GRACE REMOVES MY GUILT. God's saving grace removes guilt from my life. Since nobody is perfect, we all have guilt. Everybody does things that are wrong. *The Bible says, "all have sinned". (Romans 3:23, NIV) As a result, we all have guilty feelings. *Look at Ephesians 1:7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. NLT *This is one of the most basic truths of Christianity. Jesus Christ paid for all your sins when He died on the cross. All you have to do is accept Him as your Savior and God. There is no reason to go around with a bunch of guilt. Notice, Jesus purchased your freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from guilt, from condemnation, from punishment, and freedom from trying to pay for your sins. *Look at Ephesians 2:8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. NLT The point is that salvation is based on God's mercy not my merit. God wants to set you free from the impossible task of trying to pay for your own sins. Salvation is based on God's promise not your performance. He says, You don't earn it, it s a gift.

2 It's almost comical the way some people try to earn their salvation, to prove themselves worthy to God, and try to earn Heaven. *1.) Salvation by Sincerity does not work. "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere." The only problem with that is, you can be sincerely wrong. Ill I could pick up a glass of arsenic and drink it and sincerely believe it was milk. It will still kill me! You can be sincerely wrong. *2.) Salvation by Subtraction does not work. You don't do this, don't do that, stop doing this and that... and maybe God will forgive your sins. Don't drink, don t smoke, don t cuss, don t chew, and don t go with girls that do. Just don't do anything! If all of the Christian life is a bunch of "don ts", anybody who lives in a nursing home qualifies as a Christian. You don't do much in those places. It does not work. *3.) Salvation by Service does not work. Do good. Be nice. Take the Lord's Supper. Get baptized. Help little old ladies across the street. It does not work. *4.) Salvation by Comparison does not work. "I don't need to become a Christian because I'm better than that person." The fact is, you may be better than a lot of people. But, the Bible says God Himself is the standard by which we are all measured. We all fall short. *5.) Salvation by Grace is the only thing that works. The most important decision you'll ever make is to receive God's saving grace. If you haven't done it, do it today. God's saving grace rids my life of guilt. TS Then... *2. GOD'S TRANSFORMING GRACE RESHAPES MY LIFE. God does not just want to remove guilt from my life; He wants to reshape my life so that my character becomes like Jesus, the God/Man, the only perfect man. His grace empowers me to become the person that God wants me to be and the person I really want to be. God s grace changes the way I think and the way I live. God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay the way you are. *Look at Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. NIV ILL I have known parents who have children with serious disabilities. They love their children just the way they are. The child did not have to change anything to be loved by

3 those parents. At the same time, those parents loved that child so much that they do not want him to suffer from his disabilities unnecessarily. *For example, I have known of children born with cleft pallet. They suffer terribly from that deformity. Since there is a surgical procedure that can correct a cleft palate and eliminate a child s suffering, the parents pay for that surgery. But, the parents do not love the child more after the surgery than they did before. Sin in our life is a little bit like a deformity that causes us to suffer. God loves you and I even when the deformity of sin has control of our lives. Because He loves us, He does not want us to suffer the ravages of sin. He wants to transform our lives and deliver us from sin and all its consequences. God wants to do surgery on us and give us a new heart that can love Him and obey Him. But God does not love us more after the transformation than He did before. God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. God s process for transforming us is described in Jeremiah. *Jeremiah 18:6 "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, NIV *God is the potter and you are the clay. When you surrender your life to God, He puts you on His potter's wheel. He begins the process of molding you and me shaping our character to become like Christ. For the process to work, we must stay surrendered. When we jump off the wheel, we blow it every time. TS God's saving grace removes my guilt and God's transforming grace reshapes my life and *3. GOD'S SUSTAINING GRACE RENEWS MY STRENGTH. It keeps me going when I'm in pain, when I am suffering, when I am discouraged, and when I want to quit. I depend on God s sustaining grace every week. *Look at Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. NIV *God does not just help you to barely get by, His grace enables you to soar. The Apostle Paul had a problem that was a constant pain. Three times, he asked God to remove it but God didn't do it. Instead, God said to Paul * "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

4 God says, I'm not going to remove the pain and the problem, I am going to renew your strength by giving you my grace. Everybody wants to have a life that is problem free but God does not give that to anyone. When you and I pray, God answers us in one of two ways. One, God may remove the pain and the problem. That's His healing grace. We all have been healed of sickness. If not, we would all be dead. We have all had problems removed from our life. But there is a another way God responds to my prayers. He may leave the pain and the problem in my life, but He gives me Sustaining Grace to take me through the pain and the problem so I can be a witness of His amazing grace and so that I may grow in Christlikeness. We would never grow if God took away all our problems. Problems and pain help us to grow into Christlikeness. That is not what you hear many radio and TV preachers saying, but that is what God says in His Word. Jesus was perfect yet he was made complete through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8) We learn much more through pain than we do through pleasure. Sometimes God leaves the problem and the pain. But when we pray, He always gives us His sustaining grace. Some of you may be thinking, I would love to have God's grace, to remove all my guilt, to reshape my life, and to renew my strength. TS How in the world do I get God's grace in my life?" * THE KEY TO RECEIVING GOD'S GRACE IS TO ADMIT THAT I NEED IT. That's it! * Look at James 4:6 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. NIV Pride prevents God's grace from operating in my life. As long as I'm self-dependent, I can t receive God s grace. When a person thinks they don't need God, that prevents them from receiving God s grace. You have to admit you need His forgiveness, transformation, and strength. Some people may have very severe marriage problems, or a dysfunctional family, or some bad habit or sin. They just keep it hidden. They fake it because they don't want anybody to know. That's why it is not getting better. The first step to breaking a bad habit is telling God and somebody else that you can trust. That is why we have an invitation time in this church.

5 When you tell God, He's not shocked; He already knows. He wants you to admit it and He wants you to tell someone else that you can trust (James 5:16). If you've never confessed it to a person, that's why you still have the problem. But you say, If I admit this problem or hidden sin, that's pretty humbling." You've got it! That s the key. Which of these three kinds of grace do you need most in your life right now? Some of you may need God's saving grace. You need to have your guilt removed. Would you like everything you've ever done wrong be completely forgiven for eternity? Some of you may need God's transforming grace to reshape your life. You know you're not living the way you should. You think it's too hard to change. But, the strength comes from God s grace. He will Change you from the inside out if you surrender to Him. Some of you may need God s sustaining grace to renew your strength. You're in over your head and you're about to go under. It could be physical pain, emotional pain, or relationship pain, or some other problem. God wants to give you His sustaining grace. God's grace is available to you right here and right now. That's why He brought you here today. Prayer: Would you pray a simple prayer in your heart? "Dear God, I need Your saving grace to remove all my guilt. I know I've done things that are wrong. I am trusting in Jesus Christ who died for my sins on the cross. I ask You to forgive me, not because I deserve it but because You are a gracious God. "God, I need Your transforming grace. There are things in my life I want to change. I want to be what You want me to be, but I can't do it own my own. I need Your power to change. God, I need Your sustaining grace to renew my strength. I feel like giving up. I need Your grace to sustain me. I ask this not because I deserve it, but because You are gracious.

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