Living In Grace

Ok I fell behind again. I need to bring some of my sermons up to date so here’s mother’s day with the next few to follow soon.

What does it mean to be godly? The dictionary definition means to have qualities like God. A godly person will demonstrate Characteristics that God would demonstrate. Surely we are supposed to be godly. This morning, actually I would like to talk specifically to the ladies in church church about being a godly woman. You men are not allowed to tune out because quite frankly the same lessons can apply to you.

What does it mean to be a woman of God?

What does it mean to live in grace? Grace as I’ve often defined it means getting what you don’t deserve. The official definition of theologians has been “unmerited favor”.

As recipients of grace you gain the benefits of Christ in you even though it is unmerited. In one portion living in grace means living eternal life now because of the grace you’ve been given. In another portion living in grace means dwelling restfully within the grace of God realizing that His grace is your salvation – it means getting off the treadmill and relying upon his Grace. And yet in a third portion, living in grace means letting your life be shaped by the grace that you have received.

Living eternal life now because of the grace you’ve been given.

You are in grace, you’re made alive in the grace of Jesus Christ. Ladies, I know that so much of what you do day by day is to run full force through the day with your head down, focusing on the needs of the moment because as women God has given you a passion to provide care. You are caregivers to your children, or caregivers to your husbands. Some of you are caregivers to your parents. Some of you are caregivers somewhere else but so much of your life is given over to caring that it seems your every moment is overwhelmed with the cares of the day, and you may not even have time to wonder about eternity.

This morning I want you to know that you don’t have wait for eternity to begin in order to live in the Grace of the Lord.

One of the more familiar stories in the Bible ladies is the simple story of Mary and Martha. You know the story it’s found in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus is passing through town and Martha invites Jesus to stay with them, just like she always does. As soon as Jesus comes into the house, Martha the caretaker hits the floor running. She’s stirring pots and kneading bread in order to bake a meal fit for the king who has come into her house. I believe that she starts out wanting to do something beautiful for the Lord but somewhere amid the clutter and clamor of the kitchen she peaks out the window and sees Mary sitting on the floor listening with joy to the master teach. And she is filled with anger.

She flies out of the kitchen and casts a scathing glance at Mary and then focuses her frustration at the Lord and says, “Lord tell her to help me.” Her desire to bless has turned into a curse.

Poor Martha just couldn’t see past her very real burdens. She wanted Mary to become like her; so busy, that she didn’t have time to sit at the Master’s feet and listen. That kind of stuff would be reserved for later. There was so much to do in the kitchen that she didn’t have time to enjoy Jesus.

Does that sound familiar ladies? Are you too busy to enjoy Jesus? I understand that the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the cooking, and in some cases the kids or the husband are waiting – together with about a million other responsibilities. But how many of you Martha’s wish you could be Mary?

When Martha goes charging waving her finger in Jesus’ face saying “don’t you care…” Jesus responds with grace and compassion. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Whatever else Jesus was saying he was at least saying this, “I didn’t give you all of the tasks you have taken on. What you need, and what Mary has embraced is the good of sitting at my feet.” The hidden invitation ladies is for you to take a seat at the feet of Jesus and listen to him for awhile. Put away the burdens and requests for a time and live in the grace of Jesus.

Living in grace means taking the time to spend with Jesus – to hear him and to know him – this ladies is the good part that won’t be taken away. Make it first in your day or make it last in your day if you must but living in grace means living eternal life now because of the grace you’ve been given. Go ahead and live in that grace.

The second portion of living in grace means:

Dwell Intentionally within the grace of God

I want you to turn to another quick story with me found in John 8:1-11 and let’s read that one.

Here’s Jesus in the middle of teaching and the scribes and Pharisees come dragging behind them a screaming and crying woman whom they caught in the act of adultery. Aside from being pretty ticked off that they didn’t care much about catching the man, this story has always intrigued me. Like Martha pointing her finger in Jesus’ face, the Pharisees lay down the law. “Moses said we should stone her, what do you say?”

Jesus didn’t say anything. He sat down and wrote on the ground with his finger. Something occurred to me this week that had never occurred to me before. The Pharisees were right. Well they were technically right anyway. Everyone gets all torqued about what Jesus was writing in the dirt and I’ve been intrigued by it before but quite frankly I don’t care anymore because what I realized this week supersedes that. In that moment, the Pharisees were aching for Jesus to deliver either a yes or a no.

Of course if he said “no” he would be uprooting the law of Moses and thus breaking the scriptures and sinning against God. But if he said “yes” then justice – albeit misguided justice would rain down on that woman in the form of self-righteous stone throwers. But Jesus took the third path; the path of grace.

The moment Jesus held his tongue and began to scratch in the dirt that woman began living in grace. She didn’t realize it yet. She probably just thought Jesus was deliberating her fate but she had already sealed her fate. She was guilty. There is no way to get around that reality. And since she was guilty, she really did deserve death – but Jesus extended grace to her by not answering her accusers.

When her accusers persisted Jesus judged them instead. “Anyone here who is without sin can throw the first stone.” One by one, her accusers dropped their stones and left until It was just Jesus writing on the ground and this woman huddling in the center of the court. Who knows how long she sat there and how long he wrote on the ground; but when Jesus stood up he asked her, “Did no one condemn you?” “No one, Lord,” was her simple and most likely breathless reply.

What happens next is not a mere dismissal. Jesus takes this woman and verbally extends his hands offering her a chance to live in grace, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

I’m not foolish enough to believe that every person in this room has a pure and sinless past. And I’m not given to standing in the place of the accuser. But what I do want you to see this morning, especially you ladies, is that Jesus Christ the Son of God is offering you the chance to live in grace.

In the first place I know that he withholds judgement from the unrepentant offering them more time to come to him. These are the ones who accidentally live in grace. But when we come to him, he also offers you the chance to intentionally live in grace saying, “Go and from now on sin no more.”

Ladies I want you to intentionally live in the grace which Jesus offers.

And this of course, leads us up to the final portion of living in grace:

Let your life be shaped by the grace that you have received.

In Romans 12:1 Paul says, “…I urge you… in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…” (Ro 12:1, NIV)

Ephesians 4 expands on this concept more fully. “I…implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…in reference to your former manner of life… lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted … [and] be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:1,22,23,24 NASB95)

Living in grace, ladies means that you go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t save you from sin so that you can live sinfully. And Jesus doesn’t save you from hard sin so you can dwell in so called “Soft sins”. Jesus cleanses you so you can be clean.

As women of God, embrace living in grace. Ephesians 4 describes this in that you should be humble, gentle and patient. Seek to preserve the unity of the Spirit of peace. Put up with other Christians who might be slightly different – not because you’re superior because you put up with them, but because you genuinely love them. Let Jesus become the leader in your life every day. Grow up under the headship of Jesus Christ and let love build you up. Dwell in his word, and let His word dwell in you.

Lay aside the old you, the one that fails to obey Christ, be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the likeness of the Lord Jesus. Stop lying and tell the truth; be angry when need be but don’t let that anger lead you into sin, don’t give the devil an opportunity. Don’t steal, but work hard. Don’t gossip and speak unwholesome words, instead endeavor only to speak words that build others up. Don’t grieve the Spirit of God, obey Him. Put aside bitterness, wrath, anger and malice. Be kind and tender-hearted forgiving others as Jesus forgave you; just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

In other words ladies, be a woman of God, living in Grace.

Live eternal life now, dwell intentionally within the grace of Jesus and let His wonderful grace shape your life.

In Jesus’ name,