Monday, February 22, 2010

The Beauty of Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Amazing Grace, remember the old hymn? I can’t sing this song without it sticking in my throat from the emotion it creates in me. Grace, unmerited favor from God, it is truly amazing. I can’t imagine what would cause a Holy God to show favor on a wretch like me. But I’m grateful He has.

I love the second verse. T’was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace, my fears relieved.

Grace, it teaches us the fear of the Lord and then not to fear anything. The fear of the Lord means to stand in awe of the greatness of a Holy God. To be humbled in His presence because you understand His magnificence. But then grace allows us to fear nothing because we are loved by the very same God that we awe. We need not be afraid because He has covered it all, just for each of us.

Yesterday, we looked at the pain of great failure and how it affected the disciple Simon Peter. Today we get to see the kindness of a God that cares for us even when we fail. His grace is more than we can ever fathom. Let’s see how the grace of God restored Peter after such a serious transgression. Peter, who had denied Jesus three times and deserted Him, is restored the same amount of times.

John 21:15-17 - So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" An he said to Him, "Lord, YOu know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus sai to him, "Feed My sheep."

After the horrible denial in the courtyard of the palace of the high priest, while Simon Peter warmed himself on the coals of a fire, he left his commission behind. He had done the unthinkable; he had denied he was a follower of Jesus Christ. Now we see him by the Sea of Galilee, once again warming himself by the coals of a fire. This time he is sitting with the resurrected Christ when the conversation between them takes place.

Not once does Jesus ask Simon, Son of Jonah but three times. “Do you love Me?” Three times denied, three times restored. His commission was restored not once but three times, just as many times as it was denied.

Jesus knew Simon Peter; He could look in his heart and see that the denial wasn’t because of a lack of love. Jesus knew that Peter’s denial had come out of fear. He could have just let it go, but He didn’t. Why? Why would Jesus bring it up and make Peter reconfirm his commitment to Him?

I’m stretching a bit, but allow me a little leeway here. I think Jesus did it for Peter’s sake not His own. Peter would carry around that denial and mistake with Him where ever He went. Without Jesus clearing it up, Peter would probably ponder on it and it would torture him internally.

How often have you done that yourself? Have you carried your past failures around with you like a stone around your neck? Weighing you down and keeping you stuck?

God wants us to live in his grace not our failures. His grace is previous. It’s there even way before our failures. It was there way before Peter ever failed and it’s the same way for us.

Looking back at the first time Jesus met Simon Peter we see grace (the unmerited favor of God) bestowed.

John 1:41-42 – He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Jesus announced it to Simon Peter the moment he met him. ”You are mine; you will be the rock that builds my church.” Jesus knew Peter would fail him, even then. He knew way back then that Simon Peter would deny Him not once but three times. He knew all that and still pronounced His favor over him. The grace of God was there from the moment Jesus first laid eyes on Simon Peter.

We see the same previous grace with King David. We saw his failure with Bathsheba in our lesson yesterday. Now let’s look at the grace that was provided even before David saw Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 7:1-2 - Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains." Then Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you."

If we continue and read the rest of the story we see that night God give Nathan a different decision. The word of the Lord comes to him to tell him to deliver the message to David not to build a house for Him. Instead God tells David that he will instead build him a house, an eternal house that would extend all the way to Jesus. He would have a son and that son would be the one to build His house. That son was Solomon.

Before David sinned with Bathsheba. Before he killed her husband. Before he took her as his own wife. Before Solomon was born to them. Before David even knew he would sin, God knew and extended grace. Solomon would be the son chosen to build the house of God. Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba would be the one given to David to bless him with.

Grace was there before the sin. Grace was there even though God knew David would fail. Grace was always there.

So it is for us also. Grace is there before we fail. When we place our life in His hands, the very moment we do that, we have the unearned, unmerited favor of God. We are saved by grace but we also have it to live in daily. Grace doesn’t save us then go away. It is there with us to live in and carry us each day.

Lord, give us this day our allotment of grace. We need it. Every day. Every hour. Every minute.


Emi Noah said...

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Antônio Araújo said...

Amazing work... God bless you!!!