“I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father
except through Me”
Pastors Noreen & Henry Kevern
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “Who am I, LORD GOD, and what is my family, that YOU have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in YOUR sight, my GOD, YOU have spoken about the future of the house of YOUR servant. YOU, LORD GOD, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.”
1 Chronicles 17:16, 17
But because of HIS great love for us, GOD, WHO is rich in mercy, made us alive with CHRIST even when we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And GOD raised us up with CHRIST and seated us with HIM in the heavenly realms in CHRIST JESUS, in order that in the coming ages HE might show the incomparable riches of HIS grace, expressed in HIS kindness to us in CHRIST JESUS. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of GOD—not by works so that no one can boast. For you are GOD’s handiwork, created in CHRIST JESUS, to do good works, which GOD prepared in advance for us to do.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, by John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace. These words, this song has so touched our lives. But what is grace and how do we apply it in our lives? Grace is love, GOD’s love, which is different than what so many people think love is. Grace is GOD’s beauty, HIS mercy, HIS kindness towards us. It is HIS blessing, our prayer and thanksgiving for HIS cross and resurrection. GOD’s amazing grace distinguishes we who are saved by that grace from those who are not. HIS grace makes us highly favored and honored because we are washed by HIS blood. We understand its meaning because we have been saved by GOD’s amazing grace. We are created to be HIS grace.
But what about those who are not saved? Is GOD’s grace available for them? As we read in Ephesians, GOD’s grace is available for everyone as long as we accept it in faith. So then, what is faith? To begin with faith is believing when disbelief leaves and trust in GOD begins. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” When we are in darkness of sin, so entrenched in the lies of the devil, our lives have no meaning. Just look at the world today. So little love and so much hate. So many lies and hatred of the truth. But the amazing thing about grace is that GOD wants us to have it, to accept it and to live it. That is why HE came to earth, to teach us HIS way, HIS truth and HIS life, GOD’s living, breathing example of what HE wants of us. HE created us with HIS desire for grace and a desire to want to come and know HIM. HE does not force HIS love on us, but once we accept HIM in faith, HE commands us to obey. And it is not hard to obey and trust, because HIS HOLY SPIRIT fills us and teaches us as we learn. JESUS tells us that we must become little children and learn.
That’s HIS STORY. GOD became a baby, to show us we must begin by being completely dependent on HIM for everything. And that is what we are to do, be completely dependent of GOD for everything. JESUS tells us that we are to put GOD first and then HE will give us all that we need and more. No matter what happens to us in our lives, HIS grace covers us and we have the confidence and assurance that HE is always with us. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears reliev’d; How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believ’d!
John Newton was the son of a commander of a merchant ship. He was 11 when he went with his father. When John was around 19, he was forced to serve on the H.M.S. Harwich, but deserted and when he was captured again, was flogged. He then went onto a slave ship and became a servant of a slave trader and was abused, he was rescued and then became captain of his own slave ship. It was during this time as he was master of his own ship, had come into a storm in which had brought him to faith. He did not really have any religious upbringing. But one night, as the storm in his life was so intense, scared that he would die, he instead was found. He called on GOD and asked HIM to have mercy upon him and HE did. GOD’s grace became John’s life during that storm.
That is how so many people come to faith in GOD. It is when they are at the lowest point, the greatest storm of their lives, when all seems lost, that they call out to GOD.
I heard this joke, let’s see if I can retell it.
There was this man who was out in the woods. As he was walking along, he came upon a bear. Now the bear started towards him and the man called out, “O GOD, save me!” The bear froze with claws out, inches from the man’s face. Then GOD appears. “So, your whole life up to now, you have not believed in me, but now, when your life is in danger, you call on ME for help?” The man looks at GOD and says, “YOU are right. So then, can YOU make this bear a Christian?” In a blink of an eye, the bear is praying, “Bless us O LORD, and these THY gifts, from THY bounty. Amen!”
Yes, there are those sadly, who when confronted with storms of life, blame GOD and do not accept HIS gift of grace.
But for we who believe, “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace has bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” We have confidence and faith, that GOD will guide us in every area of our lives and will bring us home. O how we long for home.
John became a great preacher and writer of many songs. Once he accepted JESUS into his life, he gave all of himself to GOD and to plant seeds of faith so that others may know GOD.
Today, we see such hatred and unbelief and the evil one trying so hard to destroy anything that belongs to GOD. For almost a decade now, people have been trying to erase everything Christian from life. These people listen to the lies of the devil and spew his hate of GOD. The devil is prowling, for he knows his time is short and that CHRIST’s return is soon. The evil one sees the signs everywhere and so should we. But here is the thing, in order to battle the evil one, we must put on the amour of GOD so that we are clothed with what we need to combat the lies of the evil one. Paul says, “Therefore, put on the full amour of GOD, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of Salvation buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take of the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the Word of GOD. And pray in the SPIRIT on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the LORD’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, Words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chain. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:13-20 The amour protests us from the assaults that keep coming at us from the devil. He uses people and circumstances to trick us into doing something that we should not. Our amour is the Word of GOD, that by knowing it and learning it and saying it, puts a wall of protection around us. As I have said before, the devil knows the Word of GOD and uses it to trick us because sadly most people do not know it. The Word is our daily bread, to strengthen us with power from on high and to teach us GOD’s grace and love. The Lord has promis’d good to me, His word my hope secures, He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.
Grace is how we should lead our lives. It is hard to show grace sometimes. I was reading about a pro-life person, who recently was at an abortion clinic when one of the people there came over to that person and punched them so hard that it gave her a concussion. The Christian did not go after that person, but instead, forgave them. She plans to continue her fight against abortion and when she is recovered, go back. We have to stand in faith, showing grace, even when evil raises its ugly head. That is what JESUS means when HE tells us to turn the other cheek. HE is our example, that when the time came, HE accepted the stripes of the whip and was nailed to the cross. We have to stand firm in our faith and show GOD’s grace even when it hurts.
But what does grace do about our past sins? Simply, it erases our sins. So much is going on about past sins lately, with wanting to punish and destroy lives. It is important that we point out sin, so that it is brought to lives and people can come to GOD, but it is equally important forgive, as JESUS said, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” and this is a command. Sin must be rooted out, gently, so that we do not fall into temptation, and then, when the person asks forgiveness, we simply forgive. You see, granting forgiveness removes the chokehold that the other person who sinned against you off of your throat. When we do not forgive, we are not being CHRIST-like. HIS whole purpose in coming to earth was to forgive us our sins. Grace teaches us to forgive.
One of the prayers we use in our church services comes from John Newton. We say this prayer after communion.
May the grace of Christ our Saviour,
And the Father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favor,
Rest upon us from above.
“Thus may we abide in union
With each other and the Lord,
And possess, in sweet communion,
Joys which earth cannot afford.
By Rev. John Newton, 1779
John Newton is an example to us all. His life was by no means an easy one. But once he was found in GOD’s grace, he served the LORD with all of his heart, his soul, his mind and his strength. He heard and listened and obeyed. He gave all he was and trusted in the LORD. This Christmas season, let us prepare for the return of our KING, and let our lives be filled with HIS grace and may HIS peace fill us and may HIS light shine through our lives. The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make HIS face shine upon you and be gracious. The LORD turn HIS face towards you and give you peace. Amen.