Happy Labor Day Everyone! Hopefully you get a chance today to rest and take some time to spend with your family.
At church yesterday, I took some time away from my series in the Sermon on the Mount for two reasons. One main reason was that since it is a holiday weekend, many people were going to be out of town. I only have one message left in the series, but it is a very important one. I wanted as many people to be there as possible. The other reason is that I wanted to focus on the grace of God. The past couple weeks have been difficult as we have dealt with the Two Roads, False Teachers, & False Followers. I wanted to balance the tough teaching we have had with an emphasis on what God can and does do in the lives of His people. I wanted to emphasize the Apostle Paul's life story.
In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, the Apostle Paul gives what might be considered his autobiography. I emphasized the four chapters to his life's story.
Chapter 1: The Worst Part, A Life of Sin
Paul said in verse 13 that he was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor. He named his sin. His life before Jesus was one of sin. His resume? "I killed people. Not just any people, but those people who loved Jesus and the only reason why I killed them or persecuted them was because they loved Jesus." He specifically named his sin.
This is, without doubt, the most difficult chapter for anyone to write. It is so hard because most people do not want to deal with the issue of their sin. It is so hard to look directly into the mirror of their own sin and name them. To deal with generalities of our sin will keep us from dealing with the real issues. But as Paul addresses this first chapter, he does so from the angle that he "formerly" was these things. He had changed. The change is found in the next chapter.
Chapter 2: The Best Part, A Life of Grace & Mercy
Even though he did all those things, he was shown the mercy and grace of God. God's grace was more than abundant. It continued to overflow and overflow his sin. As I studied this, I thought of God's grace like that of a water fall. It never stops. It keeps going. As you think the water will eventually dry up, it doesn't. Paul was really, really, really sinful. But God's grace is really, really, really good. The waterfall of God's grace kept flowing over his sinful life.
Paul's story can be our story. He says that it is a trustworthy statement that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Amazing truth! When someone thinks that they could never be forgiven by God for how bad they have been, Paul stands up and says, "look at my life." He was the poster child for hope. If God could save Paul, who couldn't He save? He is the hope for the worst of sinners.
Chapter 3: The Current Part, A Life of Service
God changed him and called him into a life of service. He was willing to serve other people. He was willing to give up his interests for the interests of others. His calling was special, for sure. But it is not so special that it does not mean something for us. Many people come into church wanting to be served instead of the mindset of serving. The attitude int he Scriptures is never "what's in it for me?" It is always "how can I serve others?"
Chapter 4: The Last Part, A Life of Praise
He was a sinner, he experienced the grace and mercy of God, he was changed and served others . . . what did this do for him? It caused worship. In verse 17, Paul erupts in praise. As should we. Do you? Are you moved to worship because of all that God has done in your life? Does his grace and mercy move you to praise Him?
If you want to listen to the message, you can find it HERE (usually posted by Wednesday noon).