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Overwhelmed with Love, Forgiveness and Grace!

Have you heard the story about the merciful judge? It goes like this:
There once was a man who committed a very terrible crime. He brutally
killed and murdered an innocent woman and he couldnt believe that he had
done it. He felt bad about it, but he couldnt change the fact that he was guilty.
He went before the jury in the courtroom. They heard the evidence and
found him guilty of the crime he had committed. He still pleaded for mercy.
He begged the judge to have mercy on him, to give him life and freedom.
The judge said to the young man, You have been found guilty of a very
terrible crime. We cannot live in our society in freedom when crimes like this
go unpunished. If I would let you free and allow no punishment, anyone in
our society could commit a terrible crime like this and expect no penalty.
Then the judge said something that astounded the man, You have been
found guilty of murder in the first degree and the punishment of the death
penalty must be paid.
The man began to weep uncontrollably because of his crime and the
punishment he had to face.
But, the judge continued, because of my great love for you as a fellow
human being, I am going to take your punishment. I will die in your place and
you will be set free.
The man and the crowd could not believe their ears. You might think the
man went out and committed another terrible crime, but because he realized
the price that the judge paid for his life, he left the courtroom a new and
changed person. He wanted to live a life that would give back to the world
and help the family whose wife and mother he had killed. He was a changed
man because he had seen the sacrifice of someone else giving his or her very
own life for his.
This story is an example of grace. Jesus did the same thing for us. He died in
our place because God required that our sin had to be punished and Jesus loved us
so much that He suffered the pain of hell in our place even though He did not
deserve the punishment, and we did not deserve the depth of His love.

Understanding grace is a foundation for every believer. Grace is commonly defined

as a gift we dont deserve, or:
Its too easy to just define grace and go on with life, and take grace for granted.
God blesses us as we not only understand grace, but as we eat, sleep, breathe,
think, feel, and share grace. Too often we can learn about grace and how to be a
good Christian and then stay in our comfort zones and forget how utterly lifechanging God expects grace to be in our lives. Unless we learn how to show and
tell grace, our Christianity becomes lukewarm, like mushy toastnot worth a
whole lot to a dying world.
1. The most amazing grace
Every day we turn our own way. We operate independently of God almost as if
we shake our fist in Gods face and say, I want to do this MY way. And how does
God respond? Right in the middle of our sin, Jesus comes and says, I will take
your punishment. I will die for you. I want to be in relationship with you. Its the
most amazing thing in the world. Some people think they are too bad to follow
Jesus. Jesus came to save sinners.
We will never be good enough to receive Gods grace. Romans 5:8 tells us that,
God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died
for us.
2. Grace is radical.
Its like flying upside downits crazy, its amazing, it is supernatural, its the
way of true love.
a. Grace is turning the other cheek when someone hurts you.
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on
the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matthew 5:39).

This is not how people normally respond. Would you respond with grace or
revenge if some purposely shoved you when they walked past you? Gods grace in
our lives helps us change perspectives.
b. Grace is loving your enemies.
You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your
enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who
persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).
c. Grace is feeding the poor, visiting the lonely, putting ourselves in serving
mode and having the time of our lives doing it.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be
gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the
sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to
those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take
your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of
the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was
thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you
invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you
looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the
righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and
feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see
you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King
will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of
these brothers of mine, you did for me. Then he will say to those on
his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire
prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave
me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I
was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after
me. They also will answer, Lord, when did we see you hungry or
thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did
not help you? He will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did
not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they

will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life

(Matthew 25:31-46).
3. Grace is a FREE gift. (Who doesnt like free gifts?)
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 (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We cant earn grace. We cant work for it, and that drives us crazy. Its in our
blood to make sure we work for something that is worth having so we can feel like
we deserve it. What do we deserve? Hell! Its hard to admit that we deserve hell.
But instead we get Heaven by the grace of God because Jesus loved us so much to
die and suffer the pains of hell in our place.
This is the key difference between true Christianity and religion. Religion does
not have a Savior calling us to be in relationship. Instead, religion practices dos
and donts. When we understand grace, we come into a relationship with the God
of this universe and we follow the guidelines He gives us in the Word. We do this
not just to get to Heaven, but because we know that obedience brings life and
freedom. We obey Him from a thankful heart. We must always share about the
importance of a relationship with Jesus because Satan wants us to make
Christianity into a religion rather than a relationship.
4. Gods saving grace is the only way to Heaven.
Why is this true? Because God is a Holy God. When someone sins, someone
has to pay. Heaven would not be Heaven if sinful people are there. No one is good
enough for Heaven.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
So how can I get there? I get to Heaven by believing that Jesus is the one who
gave His life for mewho paid for my sins on the crosswho suffered the pains
of hell for me. He is my Savior and my Lord, my master. Sin does not control me
anymore. I am set free to serve God. This is SAVING GRACE.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

5. Grace is easy to take for granted.

Our parents and friends and family constantly give us grace; teachers give
students grace; and God constantly gives us grace. Unless we really understand and
appreciate the sacrifice of grace, we make it cheap and dirty. We complain and
have an attitude, get bored, selfish or angry when something doesnt go our way.
The enemy loves for us to cheapen grace this way.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may
increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any
longer? (Romans 6:1-2).
God set us free from sin and bondage through His grace! Lets celebrate and
share the greatness of His gift!
Express It and Live It!
1. Practice seeing grace all around you.
2. Talk to someone about grace during the week. Ask God who He wants you
to be discipling and praying for.
3. Remind each other of grace often. Look at how often the books of the Bible
start out extending Gods grace and peace.
4. Watch for, enjoy, share and praise God for His grace that He showers around
us: the good taste of food, the hug of a child or parent, answers to prayer,
laughter, clothing, warmth, friends, family, shelter, His Spirit, a rain shower,
a word of encouragement, music, forgiveness, etc.
5. Extend grace by being gracious people.
6. Learn how to illustrate and share grace.
a. One description of grace is God wants to bless us in every area of our
lives even though we dont deserve it. Describe what that means.
b. Native Americans might be able to relate grace to the symbol of corn.
Corn is used as a symbol in many ways, showing the blessings of the
gods. Maybe this symbol can be used to symbolize Gods showering
of blessings upon us.
c. Scripture often uses rivers and well-watered gardens as descriptions of
Gods blessing on His people. (Isaiah 58; Psalm 1)