John Bradshaw - Gracious
It's good to be with you today. We are together so that we can open up the Bible. We'll go to God's Word and flip through its pages, and ask God to speak to us and expect that we'll be blessed as He does. This is special time; it's God's time. So let's pray together that God blesses this time and us in it. Let's pray:
Our Father in heaven, we are grateful to be together today. We are thankful for Your Word, and we pray that Your Word would be alive and powerful, that You would minister to us and speak to our hearts. We ask that we would see Jesus and be drawn closer to You. And we pray with thanks, in Jesus' name. Amen.
When my wife, Melissa, and I had been married, oh, a few years, we got the happy news that we were going to be parents. Melissa was going to have a baby, and we didn't know whether it would be a boy or a girl, and we didn't find out until our son arrived. And like every expectant parent, at least I think every, we went through this, well, whatever you go through knowing that we had to find a name. You know, a name is pretty permanent. There aren't many people who go through their lives without the name that was conferred on them by their parents. And so we wondered what would we call our child? You know, today there's a lot of new-fangled, modern-sounding names. And I'm not against any, well, too many of them.
The number 1 boy's name in the United States, for the most recent year that we have records for, is Jackson. That's number 1. Number 2? Liam. Number 3? Noah. Then Aiden at number 4, Lucas at number 5, Caden at number 6. There were no Cadens in my class at school. Grayson is number 7. Then Mason at 8. So you got Grayson and then Mason. And number 9 is Elijah. Number 10 is Logan. I have a nephew named Logan. So, there are the top 10 boys' names. That's what we'd kind of be looking at today if we were having a son, I suppose.
Now, on the other side of the ledger are the most popular girls' names today. The most popular girl's name today, that's for newborn baby girls is Sophia. Number 2: Olivia. Then Emma, number 3. Isabella, number 5. Ava, number 4. I got those back to front. Number 6 is Mia. Number 7 is Aria. Have you noticed that the first seven names all end in "a"? Eighth most popular girl's name right now, baby girl's name, is Riley. Then 9 is Zoe. Then 10 is Amelia. And as a bonus, number 11 is Layla. So, what would we do? What would we, the Bradshaws, do? My parents had seven children. I'm the seventh. And here are the names. They'll give you a clue what we were going to do. The oldest is Paul, then my sister Jackie, then Wayne, then Leslie, that's my sister. So boy, girl, boy, girl. Then David, and then Gregory, and then, uh, I wouldn't have been surprised if my parents had named me "Vanilla".
We had very ordinary names, nothing too terribly exciting. It's interesting; you look at the next generation of kids, the names start to get a little more creative. And then the grandchildren, my, my siblings', I have no grandchildren. My siblings' grandchildren, that's when the names start to get...adventurous. But we weren't going to be adventurous. It would be something like Paul, although we already had two Pauls in the family. It would be something like, um, Nicholas, but we settled on that as a middle name. It would be something like Michael, except we had Michaels in our family as well, and I like that name very much. So what would we do? We decided that we would name our son "Jacob". Jacob. Ah, a Bible name. Yes, that's true, but that's not why we named him Jacob. In my class at school, there was no boy named Jacob. I didn't know any Jacobs growing up.
My wife Melissa didn't know a Jacob. We, we, we thought, "It's a great name". We liked the name. Plus, there aren't many kids around named Jacob. Little did we know the year we named our son "Jacob," "Jacob" went to number 1 in the charts, and it stayed there for a long time. And so now you go to a playground, and you call out, "Jacob"! and you get six or seven kids come running, and it's, it's not a rare name at all. We weren't trying to be obscure; it was just, "Eh, that'd be nice". Jacob. Not too many Jacobs around. And we like the name. Now, of course, there's a little challenge with the name Jacob, and that's the meaning.
Now, you know, I have friends, and my guess is you might, too, who, when they were expecting a child, scoured the baby name book looking for something with a great meaning, or went to the Bible and found some obscure Hebrew name that had a wonderful meaning. We didn't want to do that. We just didn't. It's okay for you to. It just wasn't our style. Jacob. The meaning... "Jacob" means a "supplanter". It fitted for the Jacob of the Bible: somebody who gets what he gets by devious means. Jacob, who basically swindled the birthright, or he got it by devious means from his brother Esau. Jacob. Well, how do you tell your child what his name means? "It means, sorry, sorry, son... your name means a 'cheater,' a, a, a 'supplanter,' a 'devious person.'" We, we told him "Jacob" means "good boy who puts all of his toys away".
That's what we... okay, we didn't tell him that, but, uh, but we might have. Jacob. Jacob. Have you ever...do you know what your name means? It may well be that your name means something beautiful. My name, John, I like the name. I was named after my dad. He was John, as well, so I was John Jr. But the name means, "John" means "God is gracious". I like that. As a Bible-believing Christian, I'm reminded every time I hear the name or read the name or look at my driver's license, not that I do that very often, or look at my passport or whatever it might be. John. What does it mean? "God is gracious". That's interesting. The subject of grace comes up often, as it should, in Christian churches. Grace. We are saved by what? By grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith. But what is grace?
Now, if you are typical, orthodox, perhaps, the definition of grace that you're most likely most familiar with is that grace is, can you tell me? Someone's got it: unmerited favor. Grace is unmerited favor. And I don't have a major problem with that, but I wonder if we can't just stretch it a little bit further. Everything God does for us is favor, so grace has to be favor. And you may say, "Well, I, I broke my leg; I fell down some stairs". "I lost a job". "We got evicted". Uh... Yeah, but, here's... let me challenge you just a little bit. The Bible says that "all things work together for good," and even though something might be difficult or painful, ultimately, when we get to heaven and look back over our lives, we will agree that everything God did we wouldn't want to change. Everything that He allowed we would say was allowed with the big-picture purpose in mind.
So everything God allows is God's favor towards us. Unmerited favor? Well, sure. If we believe in Protestant theology, we understand that we can do nothing to earn God's favor, earn God's blessing, earn God's grace. It's all unmerited. God called us into existence in the beginning. He owes us nothing. We have done nothing to earn anything from God, and everything He does towards us is favor. All right, then. Could we define grace a little more robustly than by saying "unmerited favor"?
A few years ago, our It Is Written team was in Europe. We went to Germany, actually, Germany and Poland. We filmed a television program about an extraordinary man, a German pastor and theologian. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was born in, well, born in Germany, but after the boundaries were shifted, the borders were shifted after World War II, that's now part of Poland. Um, then he really was raised in Berlin with his family. Bonhoeffer died in very unfortunate circumstances. Ultimately he was arrested because, well, he was part of the resistance against, uh, Hitler's Nazi party, and he was in a plot that was seeking to take Hitler's life. Whether or not they knew that, no one's really too sure. Either way, he found himself in prison. He was imprisoned in Berlin, ultimately made his way to Flossenburg, a concentration camp near the border with the Czech Republic. He was executed there, less than two weeks before the end of World War II. A great loss for the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's most well-known work, his most well-known book, is a book called "The Cost of Discipleship". And in "The Cost of Discipleship" he wrote a lot about grace. He wrote about cheap grace, and he wrote about costly grace. Now, Bonhoeffer did not originate the term "cheap grace". He got that when he used to attend a church in Harlem, in New York, pastored by the Reverend Dr. Adam Clayton Powell. And it was there he heard this phrase, "cheap grace". And he thought about that, and he thought about that in relation to what the German church was doing as it capitulated, uh, before Hitler's machine. And here's what Bonhoeffer wrote about cheap grace. Let's take a look at this together: "Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession... Cheap grace is [a] grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate".
Bonhoeffer had a very elevated view of what grace was. Notice how he referred to cheap grace. Now, at the same time, Bonhoeffer wrote about costly grace. There's a cheap grace and a costly grace. This is how he defined costly grace: "Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'"
That's Dietrich Bonhoeffer. No, no, he didn't write anything in the Bible. Those are some pretty good definitions, I think. Now, I want to share with you a definition that I found about grace. I have a confession to make: I don't know where I found it. I don't know who wrote this. I don't know if I read it in a book or found it on the Internet or wrote it down during a sermon that I heard. I don't know. But I'm going to share it with you, anyway, because I like it. Let's take a look at this definition of grace: "Grace is the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues".
In other words, grace is the power of God drawing you to Him, keeping you in Him, and then growing you in the grace of God, growing you so that you more and more reflect the character of Jesus Christ. The Bible defines grace as power for salvation. This is the power of God at work in your life. Oh, undoubtedly it's unmerited favor; that's okay. But I wonder if we don't harm our understanding of grace by, what seems to me, narrowing it just a little bit and giving it a definition that we maybe can't quite as easily grab a hold of. Grace: God's power at work in your life, to change your heart, bring you to faith, and grow you in faith in God. Grace: the power of God at work in you to bring salvation into your experience. Powerful. What I'd like to do... is take a look at a case study of grace in the Bible.
In fact, what we'll do is we're going to compare the experience of two people. And we'll notice one person who experienced the grace of God, the power of God to save, the power of God to transform, the power of God to remake in the image of Christ. We'll look at that individual, and we'll contrast that person with somebody who coulda, shoulda, woulda, but didn't experience the real power of the grace of God.
So let's go to our Bibles. We'll open them now to the book of 1 Samuel, and we'll start in 1 Samuel, chapter 13, 1 Samuel 13:9. "Saul said, 'Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.' And he", that's Saul, "offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, 'What have you done?' And Saul said, 'Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, "The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord:" I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.' And Samuel said to Saul", 1 Samuel 13:13, "'You have done foolishly: you have not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established your kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought Him a man after His own heart, and the Lord commanded him to be [the] captain over His people, because you have not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.'"
King Saul, what a...scoundrel. Named by God, chosen by God, hand-picked by God to be the first king over God's people, Israel. That was God's plan. Could he have been a great king? Yes. There's no doubt. He could have been a great king. Was he a great king? Hmm. We would have to agree that he was not, in fact. We're going to agree that he was a scoundrel sort of a king, scoundrel of a person, really, if I may, I guess I just did. Tell me what you think of when I say "King Saul". What comes into your mind? Well, might be...I'll give you a chance. Why don't you make some suggestions? Offer some ideas? King Saul. What? Stood head and shoulders above all the other people in Israel.
That's one thing. What else? Someone says, "The witch of Endor". This man turned from God; God would no longer communicate with him. And so he went and sought out a witch. He disguised himself; he lied to her. He went to see this witch; he consulted with demon spirits. And then not long after that, his life ended in tragic circumstances. Wow. Called to be the leader of God's people, and, ultimately, he turns his back on God and flees from God. So what else do we know about Saul? He was tall. He had the witch of Endor business. Took his own life. Can you think of anything else? He was insanely jealous. "Saul has killed his thousands, and David has killed his ten thousands," the people sang. And King Saul didn't like that. He didn't like someone standing so that when the sun shone, that person cast a shadow on him. He didn't like that one bit.
And so what did he do? When he would get in these bad moods, he would have David come and play his harp. And then he'd get so angry, he'd take a spear and hurl it at David, narrowly missing him. This man was murderous. He wanted to murder David. What else did he do? He hunted David like David was a wild animal. Hunted David. He was seeking to destroy David. In so doing, he brought a split into his kingdom. Do you remember this issue with Jonathan? Jonathan came by, saw some honey. He said, "Mmm, must have some of that". He ate some honey, but the king had said, "Anyone who eats anything is going to be put to death". When he found out what his own son had done, he said, "Execute that boy. Kill Jonathan". The people rose up. They said, "You can't do that, Your Majesty". And so that's how Jonathan's life was spared.
There's another episode when King Saul discovered that David had been assisted by a priest. He had many priests, dozens of priests, executed. A crazy man, criminally dangerous, murderous. Let's do this. Imagine you have a pair of scales; you know, these kinds of scales. Why don't we put Saul's sins in one side of the scales? So what have we identified? Oh, he was a coward. Uh, Goliath came down and taunted Israel: "Send somebody out to fight with me. I'll break him up and feed him to the birds". And Saul should have gone out there; instead, he's giving his own armor to a teenage boy, saying, "Go get him, tiger". He should have been leading his people, but he was not. He'd abdicated his duty. So put cowardice in there. Given the circumstances, I'd say that was a sin. He was raised up to lead God's people, and he just took backward steps.
Cowardice. Uh, what else did we identify? He, well, he went to see a spiritist medium. Hm. Well, there's nothing in this side of the scale, so, this side just collapses. So let's keep piling on. Took his own life. Shouldn't have done that. That was a demonstration of...I know that gets complicated. Some people are driven to that because they lose hope, owing to depression and so on. We would look at that differently. But here's somebody who knew God, ran from God, and said, "That's it; I'm done," and checked out. Weigh down the scales with that. What else? Oh, yes, he hunted David. He was filled with jealousy. He murdered the priests. My goodness, there's a lot in these scales. A lot. What about Saul and grace? Do you think God extended grace towards Saul? Of course He did. It was grace that kept Saul alive. Was he forgiven for his sins? Uh, no, he was not. Why not? Because he didn't repent.
God manifested grace and extended grace towards him, and King Saul just did that. "I don't want it; I'm not interested". He turned down the gift of grace from God. But, I told you there'd be a case study. Let's compare, shall we? Let's do that. We'll compare King Saul with his successor, King David. We've already read that the Bible says that David was "a man after God's own heart". In fact, we were in 1 Samuel chapter 13. Let's go now to the book of Acts. Acts chapter 13. The Bible says, "After that He gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years". We know how that turned out. "And when He had removed him, He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony, and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.'"
It's interesting that years after the event, centuries after the event, the orator on the day, and then Dr. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, referred to David as "a man after God's own heart". And he was, wasn't he? What a guy. David killed Goliath. David killed the lion, and he killed the bear. "Only a boy named David, only a little sling". He was a hero. "Little David, play on your harp". We sing songs about him. Can you think of a single song that we sing about King Saul? I can't think of one. Maybe there is. I can't think of it. David, my goodness, we write songs about this brother. We love him because he was such a good king, delivered the people of God, had a wonderfully successful kingdom. "Man after God's own heart".
So let's try this. I say "Saul"; you think "scoundrel". I say "David"; you think "good". I say, "Saul, why was he a scoundrel"? And you say, "Well, he was a coward, and he saw the witch, and he took his own life, and he killed the priests, and he was murderously jealous". Great. I say "David"; you say "good King David". I say, "Why was he a good king"? You say, "Killed Goliath". That's right. "Killed the lion and the bear". Yes, he did. "Led the people". Yes. He was a good man, wasn't he? David, he was "a man after God's own heart". What a family he had. Remember his wife? Sure you do. What was her name? Yeah, what was her name? Well, you're going to say, "Abigail, Bathsheba, Michal". Ohhh. Some men collect sports cars. King David collected wives. He had many. And you might say, "Well, that was the custom of the day". Yes, it was the custom of the day, if you were a heathen. It wasn't customary, granted by God, for the people of Israel to be polygamists.
But there was David. In fact, I wonder about this. Do you recall the episode when David was advanced in years, well, basically, he was old and dying, and he was in bed, and he was very cold. And Mrs. David says, "Somebody run out and find a young unmarried woman so she can climb in the bed with David to keep him warm". Now, I'm not accusing David of having done anything he shouldn't have done, but I'm saying what were the customs in David's household that when he was cold, his own wife said, "Bring a woman"? It's not like she even volunteered, "I'll keep you warm, David". No. Maybe David liked... Careful. You know, if I'm sick and in bed, I don't believe my wife is going to talk to the children and say, "Listen, can you run next door? Get one of those young unmarried women; bring her over here".
That was a strange thing that happened. Is it reflective of the type of person David was? "Man after God's own heart". What else do you think of when I say "David"? Do you think of David and Goliath? But David and...Bathsheba? Here was David, taking a walk along the rooftops one night, and in his own backyard, basically, and he looks down, and he sees what the Bible tells us is a beautiful woman bathing. Now, let's give David the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he didn't go out on the prowl. Perhaps he was just out enjoying the evening air. He looks down, and he sees what he sees. Was there any sin committed? No, there was not. Sometimes you just cannot help seeing what you see. Was he tempted? Well, very obviously he was, but temptation is not sin.
So what happened with David? David looked, and he saw Bathsheba, and suddenly the look turned into desire; that lust turned into adultery and then murder. You know what he went through to try and get Bathsheba's poor old husband, Uriah the Hittite. "Hey, Uriah, why don't you go home"? "No, I'm not doing it. I'm staying here". "Hey, Uriah, why don't you go"? "I'm not going home". "Oh, well, then". And so he sends messages: "Why don't you get him up on the front line in the battle"? This was subterfuge and deception and... So David had him killed. That's murder. "A man after God's own heart". Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Well, David wasn't a man after God's own heart when he was murdering people, but he was a man after God's own heart as a young man". Yes, sure. But years after the event, Luke doesn't write in the book of Acts, "David, once referred to by God as 'a man after His own heart.'"
He ignores all of that. I wonder why? Could there be a reason? I think there could, and it has something to do with what's written on my birth certificate. What else with David? Oh, I'll tell you; why don't we do this? We've already got Saul's sins in the scale. They are heavy. David's? There's nothing in here. But what have we agreed on already? He had the, the incident with all the wives, so that, that adds some weight. He had a man murdered, took his wife, conceived a child; the child died. That was all David's doing. I think we're, I think we're moving the scales over here. What else? What else can we think of David? David, King David, King David. He certainly had his good points, but he was a terrible father. His kingdom was rent asunder because he simply wouldn't go and make up with his son. He should have gone to Absalom and said, "Absalom, let's talk this through. Let's go fishing like we used to when you were a boy, and we'll sit on the pier with our lines in the water, but we'll just talk things out. Shall we do that, Absalom? Shall we"?
He wouldn't do that. There was a terrible situation in his family that arose concerning his son Amnon. David didn't take disciplinary action. Good father? Nah, let's put that in there. Dysfunctional family because he was a train wreck of a father. Were there other things about David's life? Well, I'll give you one. I'll give you one. David said to his right-hand men, "Go and number Israel. Count up the amount of people we have. We'll see how strong we are". They even said to him, "Your Majesty, let's not. God does not want us doing that. Let's not". And David said, "I'm the king. You're going to go do it". And so they did. And as a result, God said to David, "I'm going to offer you three choices: bad, bad, or bad". And David said, "No, I'm not choosing. It's always better to fall into the hands of a merciful God". And as a result of David's sin, direct result, God struck dead 70,000 people. Can you imagine?
Let's add that into the scale. Suddenly, King David makes King Saul look like a choir boy. Responsible directly for the deaths of 70,000 innocent people. What in the world? And yet, and yet, the writer in the book of Acts says David was "a man after God's own heart". And yet, you fully expect that when you get to heaven, you're going to see David there. You won't see Saul. He'll be on the outside of the New Jerusalem looking in, and he won't be out there too terribly long. But what about David? David will be right in there, shouting "hallelujah," saying "praise the Lord," honoring Jesus, praising God. How can that be? Back to our names. Jackson is number 1 for boys. Sophia is number 1 for girls. I called my son "Jacob". It means a "supplanter". On my own birth certificate: John. What does it mean? "God is gracious".
And so the answer to this seeming riddle: that the one king who was certainly a bad egg is lost; the other king, who you could make a very strong argument was a badder egg, is saved. You read in Acts 2, verse 29, "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us until this day". And verse 34 says, "David is not ascended into the heavens: but..." But, but, the inference is David is dead and buried. He hasn't gone yet, but in the resurrection he will go. How? Remember, the answer is written on my birth certificate. Let's go to the book of Psalms, Psalm 51. This is what David wrote: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions". Now, notice this: "my transgressions".
You see David's attitude in this psalm. He takes ownership for what he's done. He's not trying to pass the buck or blame anybody else. I was visiting somebody in prison once. This man was on death row. He's still there, waiting to be executed. He's been sentenced to death for terrible crimes. The man is now a member of the church. He says he has repented of his sins, and so you and I shall just believe that that is so. When I visited him in the prison, he was weeping, wiping away tears with the palms of his hands, and he said to me, "I feel terrible for my sins which I have committed". Do you believe God can forgive somebody like that? Well, we believe He forgave David, and David was a murderer. And so this man, who was a murderer, told me, "I feel terrible for my sins". Which is what David said in Psalm 51.
Look with me in verse 2: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that You might be justified when you speak and clear when You judge. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me". Now, do we understand why David is saved, and Saul is not? "I did it. I'm sorry. I confess. I admit. It was me". And when you come to God with that attitude in your heart... what God does is He forgives you. That's grace. Not only does He forgive you. What do you read in 1 John 1, verse 9? "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
God forgives, and He cleanses. He forgave David, and He cleansed David. And then the Spirit of God came into David's life. And in our experience today, Jesus through the Holy Spirit would live His life in him. And so, King Saul, who sinned, for reasons we can't explain or understand, did not come to God and say, "I'm just so sorry; it was all wrong. I take ownership. Please forgive me". If he had, God would have said, "Saul, I forgive you". Think of King Manasseh. Manasseh was a scoundrel, and God said, "Manasseh, I forgive you". This man had, had, had a doctorate in wickedness. And God said, "I forgive you". There was a thief on the cross. The Bible describes them as sinners, "malefactors". And God forgave that man minutes before the end of the man's life.
Can God do for you what He did for King David, and what He would have done for Saul? Can He? What's your answer today? Yes. That's right. God can. Can God do for your children what God did for King David? Yes, He can. Can He do it for your neighbor? Can He do it for that man at the intersection that's always asking for money, always asking for money? You don't know what's going on in the man's life. Can God forgive him for whatever it might be that he's done? Yes. Yes, He can. Guilt is a terrible thing. A little guilt is good for the soul. It just is. If you feel guilty about a bad thing that you've done, good. You should. But take that guilt to Jesus and say, "I plead with You to forgive me". And then say, "I believe that You will. I believe that You will".
I had a lady say to me one day, "I don't believe God can forgive me for what I've done". I said, "Well, you think God's a liar, then, don't you"? "Oh, no, pastor, I do not". "Yes, of course you do". She looked shocked. I had her read 1 John 1 and verse 9: "'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just...' Do you believe that"? "Well," she said, "it's in the Bible. I guess I should". She told me she had confessed her sin, that sin, many times a day, every day, for 50 years. There are 365 days in a year. Let's say she confessed her sin three times a day, she said many. That would be roughly a thousand times in a year. Over 50 years? I said to her, "Sister, you've been wasting God's time. You have confessed your sin probably 50,000 times too many. I know you feel terrible. That's not all bad. Now feel forgiven. And if you can't feel forgiven, believe that you are forgiven".
I saw her two days later. She said to me, "Pastor, I need you to know that night I had the best night's sleep that I have had in more than 50 years". Friend, how is it with you today? Is there something you need to make right with God? Can you believe in God's forgiveness? You know what Revelation 14, verse 12 says? It says, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus". You know what it could say? You know what it could say? It could say, "Here are they that are forgiven". Could say that. "And cleansed", could say that, "and have Jesus living His life in them". Means about the same thing. How is it with you?
We read in Luke 15 in verse 2 somebody came to Jesus. Well, they made an accusation about Jesus: "This man receives sinners". Jesus must have loved to have heard that accusation. He would have said, "That's right". Somebody would have said, "Amen. He forgive...uh, receives sinners". He still receives sinners. He'll receive you for whatever you've done. If there's something nagging you about your past, know that God forgives. If there's something you might have done on the way here today... You feel terrible because here you sit, in the presence of God. You got a dark cloud gathered over top of you. Our God forgives. Our God loves. Our God cleanses. We thank God for the power of His grace, and we can thank God that He is gracious. My birth certificate tells me so. Let's pray together:
Our Father in heaven, we celebrate Your grace today. You are good to us, Lord. We don't deserve it. We're like David who, well, he did a lot right, no question. My goodness, when he went bad, he, he went bad. We are grateful that You forgave David, and we believe that You'll forgive us. Your grace is wonderful. Not only will You forgive us, but You'll cleanse us and empower us and live Your life in us so we don't have to go down those dark roads ever again. We thank You today, and we love You. We offer You our hearts. We pray, take them. Have Jesus live His life in us. We thank You, and we praise You. You are gracious, and we believe it. And we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.