The Grace of God

March 25, 2018

LifeWay Moments


— The grace of God, Passion Week — 

• This week marks the beginning of what we call the Passion week. Passion refers to strong emotion or intense love, but the Latin “passio” means to endure suffering. So the events recorded of this week show us both, the intense love of Jesus the suffering he endured for us.

• We’ve been talking all month about grace and the vast difference between grace and Law. Law says you have to; grace says you get to. Law says, “It’s up to you”; grace says, “Let me help you.”

• The first time grace is mentioned is in Gen. 6:8, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” That is a picture of our salvation. The whole world had become completely evil and as God looked into every heart, he found one man who who believed him and received His grace, and he was saved by that grace, just like we are today. So grace goes back to the very beginning, even before the Law.

• God looked at Noah and saw one person who wanted to live right when literally no one else in the world did, and he received God’s grace to do it. We can too. It doesn’t matter if your whole work place is filled with people who don’t want to do right, you can and you’ll have the grace to do it.

• Grace is more than something that helps us through a tough time. It’s not a formula or a force. The Bible says that, “The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 NKJV

• God gave us the Law but He sent His Son.

• Grace is a person, Jesus.

• Jesus is divine assistance for daily living.

• Jesus is God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

• Jesus is our access to unmerited favor. He is Grace.

• So we’re going to look at what Grace did for us during the Passion week and the important truths we can live out.

The night before Day 1

• Besides being with His disciples, it’s believed that Jesus spent his last week with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. It was a couple of miles from Jerusalem and He would go back to their house every evening.

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. 

— John 12:1-2

• Remember before when Martha served Jesus? She was frazzled and distracted by the big dinner she was preparing and came to Jesus and said, “Lord, this is unfair that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

• When someone doesn’t know how to rest in the Lord, it irritates them to see someone who does.

• Jesus said, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

• Now, all this time later, Martha is still serving and Mary is still worshiping but the difference is now, Martha is worshiping too. She listened to Jesus and learned how to tap into grace. She learned how to use her gift to worship Jesus. When you try to serve without the grace of God, you’ll wear yourself out being busy and produce little or no fruit.

• The difference between between busy and fruitful is grace.

Day 1- Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ (what do you think you’re doing?) just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” And it happened just like that. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting.

— Mark 11:1

• Jesus told them to get a young donkey, that no one had ever ridden. He was showing us that our old way of thinking won’t get us to new places.

• God wants to do something new in our lives, something that we’ve never done before, but we have to be willing to “get off our…. donkey” and see the new idea, the new plan, the new way of life, and take those steps He gives us to take. If anybody asks, “What do you think you’re doing?”, we say, “The Lord needs me to do this.” 

This also demonstrates how we should never discount the young people and the children being used by God. If a brand new donkey can help usher in God’s kingdom, so can our kids.

Life Lesson — Day 1

If we want to get something we’ve never had, we have to do something we’ve never done.

Day 2 — It’s marked by 2 events.

• When Jesus and His disciples were headed to the temple, they saw the fig tree that had leaves but wasn’t bearing fruit and Jesus cursed it. That’s a picture of religion; appearances but no proof. Religion says, “As long as I look the part, I’m okay.” But Jesus was saying, “Don’t pretend to be fruitful when you’re really just hanging around trying to look the part.”

• We know the rest of that story, how the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed and wondered how it happened. Jesus’s answer was simple, “Have faith in God.”

• Then He went on to say, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

• Jesus uses saying and praying interchangeably here. You can’t pray for something and say something else, like, “Lord, I think you for my healing” and then when someone asks, “How are you?” you say,“Sick as a dog.”

• We need to say what we pray and believe what we say! Grace is God’s divine assistance, but He can’t assist what we say if we’re speaking against the Word. He confirms His Word, not ours. If we want the results the word promises, we need to say what the Word says.

• The other event is when Jesus entered the temple and cleaned house. The money changers and merchants had set up shop selling sacrifices to people before they could go worship.

• John 2:15 says that Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple.

• Jesus didn’t fly off the handle and lose His temper. He had a plan. Grace doesn’t react to situations. Grace has a plan. Grace will help you respond with authority about something without ever losing your temper.

• He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

• Stop trying to buy God’s favor. It’s not about how good a sacrifice you can make. The best sacrifice or the biggest offering doesn’t earn favor or forgiveness with God. He’s not looking for a sacrifice to make up for your sins; He wants us to look at THE sacrifice for our sins.

• The money changers were taking advantage of people’s guilt over sin by selling animals they could sacrifice and actually reminding people of their sins. They were especially taking advantage of the poor who couldn’t pay much. They were also trying to keep it about works and how good you could keep the Law, but Grace walked right in and turned the Law upside down.

• Then Jesus went back to His friend’s house again that night.

Life lesson — Day 2

Grace will cause you to respond, not react, say what you pray, and see what you say.

• Day 3— Jesus and His disciples came back to Jerusalem and spent all day being challenged by the Pharisees. They kept trying to trap Him with His words so they could arrest Him, but they couldn’t do it. They’d say, “Which law is the most important?” and He’d say, “Love fulfills the Law.” Every time they tried to get Him to answer a trick question, He spoke with such wisdom, they got confused.

• He’d say things like, “Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels.” and they’re like, “Wait, what?” They couldn’t trap Him with His words, and when we walk in grace, we won’t be trapped by our words either.

Life Lesson — Day 3

Let your words be seasoned with grace and you won’t have to eat them later.

• Day 4 is called Silent Wednesday. This was the last few quiet hours and He wanted to spend it with people who loved Him. Jesus came to save the world but He still had time for His friends. Ministry is important, but not as important as your family. Your family is your ministry. We think sometimes that Jesus was so set on dying on the cross that He only focused on that. Everything He did led Him to that point, but He wasn’t so focused on dying that He didn’t live either. He had family and friends. He made memories. He was all God and all man and He showed us how to live a godly life, have relationships and still do what we’re called to do. Jesus died in our place and we don’t have to kill ourselves trying to live for Him.

Life Lesson — Day 4

Don’t win the world and lose your family. Grace gives us the right priorities.

• Day 5

Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

— John 13:1

• Peter was a proud man. Have you ever known a person like Peter? They won’t ask for help; won’t take help; get offended at the offer. “I can take care of myself.” A person like that is really wounded and insecure deep down inside. They’re so busy trying to prove they’ve got it all together that they don’t realize they’re falling apart.

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

— John 13:7

• Jesus was secure enough in who He was to serve Peter, but Peter wasn’t secure enough to receive.

• It’s the same for us. We don’t understand everything that happens to us or why it happens, and we don’t have to understand it all to receive healing from Jesus. We might be like Peter and say, “Lord, you’re going to send me to work there? You’re going to tell me to call her? To forgive him? You’re going to tell me to do that?” You don’t understand.

• And Jesus is saying, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” Someday, you’re going to look back at those seemingly insignificant times when you humbled yourself with a simple act of obedience and understand.

Life Lesson — Day 5

Grace gives you confidence and humility. It’s because we know who we are in Christ that we can serve others.

• Never be too good to serve or too proud to be served.

• Late that night, again, Jesus took His 3 close friends to Gethsemane, to pray.  Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas and arrested. He was taken to the home of the High Priest, given a mock trial and found guilty.

• In the early morning hours, as the trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing Him three times.

• “You don’t understand now, Peter, that I love you enough to bend low and serve you, but you will.”

• Day 6

• Good Friday is the most difficult day of Passion Week. The fact that we even call it Good Friday shows how much God loves us.

Listen to how Isaiah describes it.

It was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.  Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.

— Is. 53:10-11

• What a picture of goodness and grace! That’s how we can call it Good Friday.

• Judas was overcome with remorse and hung himself early in the morning. What was the difference between Judas and Peter? They both betrayed Him, so to speak. The difference is, Judas looked to his failure. Peter looked to His Savior. There is no hope without Jesus.

• Before 9 a.m., Jesus had endured false accusations, lies, condemnation, mockery, beatings, betrayal and abandonment.  He was spit upon, tormented, pierced with a crown of thorns and forced to carry his own cross to Calvary. There he was nailed to it and lifted up and died.

• Jesus’ first words on the cross were, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

• Those words again…. “You don’t understand now, but someday you will.”

• One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We can do it now freely receiving God’s grace and eternal salvation or we will do it one day but it won’t be a declaration of our heart, but a proclamation of our future without Jesus.

• Then, about 3:00 Jesus took his last breath and died. He hung on the cross until 6:00 when He was taken down and put in a tomb so He wouldn’t be there on the Sabbath.

Life Lesson — Day 6

Grace hung on a cross bruised and broken so that we can be healed and whole.

• Day 7 — Saturday

• There’s a lot that can be said for the Saturdays in our life — the day between the pain and the promise — when you believed and prayed for something and it seems like it’s just not going to happen.

• Think about all the followers who believed but didn’t know how it would all pan out. They wandered home from the cross on Friday. What was next? They’d been with Jesus for 3 years; they loved Him but now He was gone. If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that feeling. What do I do now? How do I go on? What’s my new normal?  The world didn’t get turned upside down by people who found a new normal without Jesus. He had deposited something in them and they would never be the same. Here’s just one example.

• When the Sabbath ended at 6:00 on Saturday evening, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial. These guys were both members of the San Hedhrin, the court which had condemned Jesus Christ to death.

• They had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith, but they came out of hiding, risking it all for the One who gave His life for them. They had their new normal and it was living boldly and unapologetically for Jesus.

• Their Saturday was a bridge between a prayer and a promise and yours can be too. Don’t give up on what God has spoken to you and if you don’t feel like He’s spoken anything, let me close with this in Isaiah 53. These words are written about what Jesus did for us.

• He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Have you ever felt despised or felt the sting of rejection? Or the anguish of deep sorrow or grief? Has someone turned their back on you; betrayed you? Jesus died for that. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Jesus did all that for people who might not even choose Him. That is agape love and grace at its finest and all we have to do is receive it.

Life Lesson — Day 7

Grace is free but it’s not cheap; that’s why it’s so amazing.

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