The Grace of God Today, we will talk about the grace of God. Grace is unmerited favor.

We never deserve grace. For example, we believe that we are saved by grace when we believe in God. We are saved because of what God did, not because of what we did. We receive the Holy Spirit by grace—we don’t do anything to earn the Holy Spirit. 1. God has a special grace for each person You each have a grace that God has given you. He has plans for you and only you. He knew you from eternity and intends good for you. He has good plans for your life, to use you as His servant and as a blessing to others. Moreover, God enables us to fulfill what He has called us to: this is the grace of God. The Apostle Paul’s life clearly shows the grace of God. Galatians 1:13-16 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, God had a plan for Paul’s life, even though it seemed unlikely at first. Even though Paul sought to destroy the Christian church, God’s grace intervened. Paul deserved punishment, but God had mercy on him and instead used him to build His church throughout the Roman world. Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." 2. We are responsible to make the most of God’s grace The circumstances of our lives are not fair, but God judges us fairly. He judges us according to the grace He has given us—our background, our surroundings, the resources we grew up with, our opportunities to learn about Him and obey Him, etc. Luke 12:47-48 "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

It is not our place to compare ourselves with others, or ask “Why me and not them?” or “Why them and not me?” God has given some people more opportunities than others—with these opportunities come responsibility. What matters is what we do with what God has given us. Can you identify the grace of God in your life? The more you mature as a Christian, the more you realize that all good things in your life come from God. God had grace on my family that my father met Ps. Lao at a Thai party when Ps. Lao and Da were trying to start a church in Seattle. Ps. Lao had time to come down to our house in Auburn once a week to read the Gospel of Matthew with my father. He did this for three months before my father decided to close his business to come to church on Sunday. This is the grace of God. God’s grace brought some of you here today to hear this message. Maybe you grew up in the church, or had a parent or grandparent who prayed for you. God intended for you to be here today. By God’s grace, some of you have made it through difficult circumstances in your life because God was watching over you. God has especially equipped you to reach out to others coming from similar situations with God’s love. (2 Cor 1:3-4) By God’s grace, some of you were born into good families and never lacked anything. God did not give you these opportunities so you could be selfish and arrogant. By God’s grace, some of you have come from countries where relatively few people know the good news. God brought you to America so that you could be a blessing to the place where you came from. You are uniquely equipped to go back and preach to your fellow countrymen. By God’s grace, some of you here are able to know God at an early age. Paul said Timothy knew the Scriptures from infancy. It was God’s grace to Timothy that his mother and grandmother equipped him so that he was ready to join Paul at a young age. Paul understood that it was only by God’s grace that he was what he was. And he understood his responsibility to make the most of God’s grace to him. God not only called him, but allowed him to meet Barnabas and become a leader in the church at Antioch, the first Gentile Christian church. God was with him as he endured so many hardships and pressed through so many challenges … all this was the grace of God. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them— yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. The point is: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

3. We need to be careful not to miss the grace of God Hebrews 12:14-17 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. The author of Hebrews warns us that we can miss the grace of God if we turn away from God because of sin. The “bitter root” is a reference to idolatry in Deuteronomy 29:18. Deuteronomy 29:18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. This is a warning to Christians that we often have a choice between the grace of God in our lives or sin. Esau is given as an example. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn son but sold his birthright to Jacob for some soup. In Genesis, the Bible says that Esau despised his birthright, or thought it was worth less than that soup that was before him. When we are faced with sin, sometimes we give up the grace of God in our lives for something that only lasts a moment. As a result, we lose something that cannot be regained. I admit that I have missed the grace of God in my own life. And I can’t know what I’ve missed. What would have happened if Abraham did not have Ishmael or David did not murder Uriah? In fact, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we understand the consequences of missing the grace of God. 4. God gives us abundant grace The fact is all of us have taken God’s grace for granted at times. We have chosen temporary things over eternal things. We have preferred other things over God. James 4:4-5 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?

But dear brothers and sisters, here is the good news. God gives us more grace. He gives us the chance to repent. James 4:6-10 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. If you feel despair because you’ve taken the grace of God for granted, know that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He did not want us to sin, but He is ready to restore us and put us on the right track again. Read carefully the promises in verses 6-10: • Resist the devil, and he will flee from you • Come near to God and He will come near to you • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up The secret to staying in the grace of God is humility. We need God; without Him, we can do nothing. Paul understood this secret. God allowed Paul to suffer a special difficulty that made Paul humble and dependent on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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