Many people gathered to hear Paul's sermon more. After worship, people have spoken to Paul. What Paul asked them in his exhortation was "to continue in the grace of God.” I believe that it is the word which gave heart to the people who he may not meet again. And it seems to me that this passage might have many different meanings to the listeners.
While mediating on today’s text, I think that ‘Paul’s exhortation’ will be also that the disciples of the Lord would be willing to use for new believers. This exhortation is the best one for parents to give their children. I would like to persuade my children to continue in the grace of God. It is because not only us but our children also have the heart to experience the grace of the Lord, to know the grace of the Lord, and to live in the earth in accordance with His grace.
The word "grace" in the church is a very familiar. 'Have you received the grace?' 'Yes, I received a lot of grace,' say the Saints. When people say that they have often been graced, they use this phrase to express that they sympathize with the sermon. In our lives, the word grace is also often used such as ‘gracious period’; stories of 'people who have received the graces’ and 'people who may ignore the grace'. The word grace is important meaning, but sometimes we may not use it properly.
There are many people in the Bible who were in the grace of God. And their behaviors have been changed completely. You can discover that a gracious person is transformed, grows spiritually, becomes strong, becomes bold, meek, holy, and obedient. A good example will be Paul. How about you? Have you been changed by grace? Did you grow up? Did you get stronger? Have you given courage? Have you been gentle? Did you become holy? Have you become obedient? Did you become a giver?
In God's grace, it is also what should happen in our lives is to be transformed, be grown, be stronger, be courageous, be meek, be holy, and be obedient.
There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector. He had an excellent job and rich (Luke 19). He would have enjoyed a peaceful life by wearing luxury clothes, having healthy food, and maybe a good car. But he had a fatal weakness. He had few close people. Because he had the name of a traitor who sucked the blood of his family, the Israelites. However, there was a storm in his life. It happened when Jesus visited his house.
One day, Zacchaeus heard a rumor that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by in his neighborhood. He would be curious because he heard many rumors about Jesus who performed many miracles and conveyed a powerful message. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. However, Zacchaeus hesitated to go out to see Jesus because other’s sights. It was a burden for him to be seen by other people. However, he went up on a tree in the heart of wanting to see Jesus from afar. But Jesus came to Zacchaeus and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." (Luke 19: 5). "
Jesus pointed out to him. He must be surprised to hear what Jesus said. Zacchaeus knew that he himself was a mocked person by others. But now, Jesus said to him, “I must stay at your house.” Among the hundreds or thousands of houses in the city, Jesus wanted to share a meal with Zacchaeus. We can assume that Zacchaeus was very glad to hear these words. Now, we know that Zacchaeus is in the grace of Jesus. Zacchaeus who might not qualified and who was pointed out as a traitor was in the grace of Jesus
What happened after Zacchaeus experience the grace of the Lord? He has been completely changed.
"Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." (Luke 19: 8). "
Those who have experienced the grace of God have been changed like this way. If we know that God's grace is so great, then we will be changed by His grace.
Previously, he would have earned his fortune regardless of others’ blame. However, He became a complete different person after he met Jesus. In the grace of Jesus, his mind was changed, and then his behavior also was changed.
Do you have this experience? Have you ever experienced the grace of the Lord? And then was your mind changed? Grace transforms a person's heart. Grace has a power to change one’s life.
What kind of life did Zacchaeus live later? Did he live like previously? Or did he live as he confessed to Jesus? Obviously, Zacchaeus would have lived as he had said to Jesus. Because Zacchaeus experienced the grace of God. He continued in God’s grace.
To continue in God’s grace means to know the grace of the Lord and to live in His grace. It is also an exhortation to live in the presence of the Lord and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Also, to continue in God's grace means to experience God's forgiveness.
Angry people caught a woman who was in adultery. People cursed and cursed her. They said that she must be stoned to death according to the law of Moses. She was like a virus that defaces society. What was she thinking about? The woman would have been trembling in fear of the people standing with their stones at her. The teacher of the law and Pharisee, who wanted to trap Jesus, brought her tow Jesus. They asked an opinion to Jesus. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now What do you say?” Then Jesus bent down and began to write something on the ground (John 8: 6). The excited people began to look curious about Jesus’ behavior. What did Jesus write? Jesus was writing something between a woman in fear of death and many who wanted to reveal their righteousness. It was the moment when the fate of the woman was decided according to what Jesus said. Jesus, who became a judge, but bowed and wrote something. People kept on questioning him, Jesus said to people:
“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
And he stooped down and wrote on the ground with his fingers again. After hearing Jesus, people who were upset due the adultery woman began to leave one by one. It was because no one has said that he was innocent. What did the woman see? She would see the stones that had to be flying to her, but were scattered all over the square. All the people left and only the woman and Jesus remained. Then, Jesus asked the woman,
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8: 10,11)
After the woman heard this, she left. What did the woman experience? It was the grace of the Lord. Now she has been moved from death to life. The person who deserved to die was given life by the grace of the Lord. The woman who has experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God has come in the grace of the Lord. What kind of life did the woman who experienced the grace of God would be? I believe that she should thank God for life; she would not have lived the same sin again. Grace is the meeting God who lowers the body. It is the experience of the great grace of God who could condemn, but didn’t condemn. Those who have experienced this clearly will be changed. It means that they will abandon their old life and live a new life. It is always the image of a person who continues in God's grace.
There is a praise, called 'God's grace.'
He who made me is God, // He who called me is God /
All that who I am are the grace of God.
Until I finish the race/and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me// I had the cross to bear.
All that who I am are the grace of God.
Overflow Grace//Grace that I could not repay// grace of God wrapped my life
If I walk on the earth without hesitation // the grace of God grabbing me
The song would be the confession of the apostle Paul, but the message in the praise is that when we meditate on our whole life, we realize that without God's grace, we are not present. I hope that this praise will be a confession for all of us.
God who made me, sent me to this land, called me, and sent me. Because we are in the grace of God who loves us, we can live today. Amen. Always be in God's grace. Experience the presence of God. Be filled by the Holy Spirit. This is what the Lord wants us to do.
But in our lives, there are a lot of things happened. Some maybe we want, but others maybe we never want. “I have an accident, I get sick, I lose my job.” When these things happen, we just do not know what to do. In all those moments, however, it is God's grace that we must remember. As we are in the grace of God, we have the power to overcome these situations. It is the grace of God that we have lived so far. It is God's grace. It is God's grace that we can live in the future. If we can praise the grace of the Lord, our lives will be much lighter.
Let’s think about this. If you were in 20s, what would you in 40s advise you? If you were in 40s, what would you in 60s advise you? You may say that by the grace of God the times will pass. Thus, you will always exhort yourself to be in God's grace. You would say to yourself that it is important to save time and live according to the words of the Lord. It is the time of God's grace and will tell you to thank him. God's grace is indeed rich.
If the grace of God is dry, we cannot live. God’s grace always is overflowed to us. Those who experience God's grace will be able to share that grace to others as well. It is because of the richness of God's grace. That grace grows us spiritually and gives us the courage to win the wicked world. The courage against the wicked world can come only through God's grace. Even if we are having a tough time, we should always keep in mind that we should always be in the grace of God even if we have just had a fight with our guests.
You will know the story of the prodigal son who returned. The son who took his inheritance to his father in advance and went to another country and wasted the money. Later this son became a beggar, and he ate pork’s food. He decided to come back to his father’s house. At that time, when his father saw his returning son, the father widely opened his arms. It was the mercy his father showed to his son. And what my father did next. He has given a big feast for his returning son. This shows the size of the grace of our Heavenly Father. He did not rebuke the son who comes back to Him, but puts on good clothes and makes a big feast. Even now, God is making a lot of these feasts. What kind of life will the second son, who is in the grace of the Father God, will be? A few days later, would he steal the father’s money and leave for a faraway country? Or would you live like your father's servant? If you were him who has deeply grasped the grace of your father, you will become sincerely and earnestly a son. This is the power of grace.
Those who are overcome by the grace of God may also be gracious. God's grace also flows through others. If you have lived by experiencing grace, you must remember that grace.
How does God call us? God calls us children. He calls us worthy. This is what the Lord has called us toward those who betrayed the Lord, misunderstood the Lord, blamed Him, and did not obey Him. This is God's great grace. We cannot understand the grace of God, but the grace of God is so great. I want to persuade you to continue in God's grace. That's all. God's grace will change us. The grace of God will make us a person to give. God's grace will grow us. God's grace will make us like Him. We, who have experienced the grace of the Lord, must also be gracious. Then the world we live in will be a gracious world.
I pray that all of us will realize the grace of God and continue in the great grace of God. Amen.