Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Grace Continues to Work in You

Grace!  We’ve all heard of Grace, right?  That word grace can be defined as undeserved mercy.  Here’s an example:

Someone steals from you.  The theft not only takes something of value from you, but maybe you have a sentimental attachment to that thing.  Maybe your deceased father gave it to you. So, it’s not just that you lost something, you lost something that has value for you, beyond the monetary value.  The person gets caught, returns the item to you and asks you for forgiveness.  There are two things you can do.  You can send them to jail or you can forgive and go on.

Forgiving and moving on is grace.  The thief doesn’t deserve it, but you grant it anyway.  That’s grace – That’s what Jesus did.  While we were sinners, He came and died for us, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer God’s wrath.  We didn’t deserve it…but He did it anyway.  God’s grace.

My question for today is this:  Did His grace stop there?  Is His grace life-changing?  His mercy was; I’m not the same since I got saved.  But can grace change you?  That’s what I want to look at today.

1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)
5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

The God of All Grace

So God is the God of all grace.  He has called us to eternal glory.  You know, God could have just written us off.  After Adam sinned He could’ve said, “That’s it, I’m done with these people,” and just written us of, but He didn’t.  In fact, He had a plan to bring us back to Him; back to eternal glory, which is Eternal Life with Him in Heaven.  The plan was Jesus Christ:  Who would come and pay the penalty that we should have to pay.  Look:

Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

Adam’s sin spread to all of us, because we have all sinned.  So, we have a penalty to pay – The penalty is death.  We will all die, but there is a gift:

Romans 5:15 (NKJV)
5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

The grace of God and Jesus’ grace are gifts that come to all who receive them.  After all, a gift is only a gift if you receive it, right.

Romans 5:18-19 (NKJV)
5:18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.

That gift of righteousness makes us right with God and:

Romans 5:21 (NKJV)
5:21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adam’s sin resulted in the sin of mankind.  Sin became a part of our nature and we all deserved death.  But Jesus came and paid that price for us, even though we didn’t deserve it; undeserved mercy.  It makes us innocent, that’s what justified means.  This is a picture of the grace of God.

There is one other thing I want you to consider here.  God created the Garden of Eden and put Adam there.  He met every need that man would have in the Garden; a place to live, food, meaning and purpose (through the job given to him), companionship and his spiritual need.  God walked with Adam in the cool of the Garden.  They had a personal relationship.  God cared about Adam’s needs – He took care of him.  He walked with him – Spoke to him.  God is a personal God; an emotional God.  He loves us.

1 John 3:1a (NKJV)
3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

He created us to have fellowship with Him, so we are also able to have that kind of relationship with Him.  We are the children of God.  God is a personal God, not a mysterious hidden deity.  He cares about our needs.  He cares about our suffering, in the same way a father cares about his children. 

In our text, He warns us that we will suffer for a while, but that He is in control and can use that suffering to do a work in us – To perfect us, establish us, strengthen us and settle us.  So, the grace of the cross didn’t end there.  Grace is ongoing.  God still works in us.  We are made better through suffering.  We’re not just suffering for suffering’s sake.  There is a purpose in our suffering. 

This is why I feel sorry for atheists.  For them all of life is futile.  You’re born into a hostile world.  You suffer all kinds of troubles and pain.  Then you die, never knowing the comfort of God’s grace.  There’s no meaning and purpose to life.  There’s nothing to look forward to.  There no hope of anything better.  What a bummer to think that life here, with all of its suffering, is the best life there is.  No wonder that so many people that don’t know God commit suicide.  There’s no real purpose to life outside of God’s grace.  It’s just one struggle after another.

God’s Grace Extends Throughout our Lives

His grace continues, even after we get saved.  It’s not just limited to what Jesus did for us.  Look at the second part of our text:
 1 Peter 5:10b (NKJV)
5:10 …after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

I want to elaborate on what I said earlier, He uses our suffering to do a work in us.  

He perfects us – That word perfect means to thoroughly complete us.  This life is a training program; a preparation.  He’s making us ready for eternal life.  He’s working out all of the bad things in us; the selfishness – attitudes; the bitterness – bigotry, anger, and impatience, all the things that make us imperfect humans. 

God knows that we all have some of those things in us.  He uses our suffering to work those things out of us, to perfect us.  That’s how He makes us ready for Heaven.  In modern times, we use that word perfect to mean without flaws.  That’s what God is doing in completing us, taking out the imperfections and flaws.

He establishes us – That word establish means to set fast; to make permanent.  Another way to say it would be, to make it solid.  Sometimes, people have so much trouble serving God:  They’re in, they’re out.  One day, they’re sacrificing for the will of God, another day they can’t even come to church once a week.  They’re not solid, they’re not set fast.  When things go well they praise God; when things go badly they can’t even pray.  Our text tells though, that we suffer a while and God does a work in us.   That suffering can make us solid in the things of God, because when we get to a place where we can do nothing to solve or alleviate the suffering on our own, we have to turn it over to God.  It’s impossible for us.

They say there are no atheists in foxholes.  When the bombs are falling there’s nothing you can do to change the situation…except pray.  Life is like that.  We all encounter situations that we can’t change except by answered prayer.  That’s how we learn that we can trust God.  We realize that without Him life is pretty bleak, so we become less wishy-washy with our faith.  He establishes us in that faith.

He strengthens us – He strengthens our spiritual knowledge and power.  When things get really ugly in the world what do we do?  When we find out we have an incurable disease, or lose a loved one, or our job disappears?  When life gets really bad, what do we do?  Most of us pray.  Most of us want to draw nearer to God. 

Do you know that most people get saved in times of struggle and turmoil in their lives?  People want to come before God with their problems and plead for help. “Oh help me, God, help me!”  We begin to interact with God.  We improve our relationship with God.  We start to read our Bibles to find answers. 

By reading our Bibles we learn more about God:  Who He is and how he works in our lives.  Our knowledge of God increases.  By praying we are able to tap into the power of God.  We become stronger in those things.  Our relationship with God is strengthened.

Finally, He settles us.  He settles us in the sense of settling the frontier.  He builds something in us.  We become more grounded.  We’re not so easily moved.  We’re not so anxious  and worried over circumstances.  We trust God for his grace.  We know that He will come through.

People that are worldly live in fear a lot.
“What of this good thing doesn’t happen.”
“What of this bad thing does happen?”
“What will I do?”  

People get ulcers.  People have anxiety attacks, nervous breakdowns; go to psychiatrists, or just plain freak out.  Some of you may be able to see yourself in that.

We can trust in God to see us through.  That’s the faith part of the Christian lifestyle.  God’s grace is ongoing throughout our salvation. It doesn’t stop.  God is with us all the way through.

That’s How God’s Grace Helps us

We are so lucky to have found Jesus, but we have to be careful, because we sometimes take grace for granted.  We think that because His grace always works in us that we won’t suffer the judgment of sin.  We think thatwe can do whatever we want, but look:
 Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)
6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

We need to walk away from sin and allow God’s grace to work in us to do those things that we have just spent all this time talking about

Let Him PERFECT you!
Let Him ESTABLISH you.

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