The grace of God is absolutely necessary and extremely important.
Alright what’s up students I am so glad that you are hanging with us, whether you’re at student circles or you’re tuning in online, wherever you are Im so proud of you because you’re choosing to move forward on your journey with Jesus no matter what.
and this past Sunday we as a church started a brand new message series called “Essentials” asking the question “What do I really need?”. If you haven’t watched that yet go back, and make sure you watch it before Wednesdays because for the next few weeks we’re going to be digging into what it looks like to take what we heard, and to actually put it into action in our lives.
A lot of times we can think that we need God to say something new, we need more content, but really, we just need to do something with what God has already said. Think about it, chapters aren’t being added to the bible. But we grow when we go back to the same truths over and over and over again, and apply them more fully to our lives. The way we honor what God has said is by doing something with it. So Generation Hope – we’re not going to jump around from this message series, to this podcast, to this book, content, content, content, but never let it change us. We are going to put our faith in action on what God is showing our church family.
So you’ve probably seen or heard the word essential a thousand times over the past few months. Everybody say “essential”. We’ve got essential workers, we’ve been told to only go places that are essential like the grocery store. The word is defined as being “absolutely necessary, and extremely important”. And I would imagine that what you considered “absolutely necessary” to your life has changed from 2019 to 2020. Rewind in your brain to 2019 you – I bet you didn’t think of things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer when you heard that word. You probably didn’t spend too much time thinking about those things. But now – they’re on the forefront of everybody’s brain. The Covid season has made them essential!
We know that God takes things that were intended for harm and uses them for our good. God can take a season of chaos and unknown, and in the end, use it for your good. And maybe one of those ways is that on the other side of this, we have a new definition of what’s essential and what’s not.
Because let’s be real – stay with me in 2019 – I bet the world told you that there were a lot of “essential” things in your life. It’s essential that you’re in select sports, it’s essential that you do ACT prep, its essential you make straight As, its essential you get in with a cool friend group, it’s essential that you get a prom date, essential you have the new iphone, essential you get Tik Tok famous, essential you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. The world classifieds so many things as essential and we try to keep up with them, feel the pressure to not fall behind, but it’s funny… have you ever gotten one of those things? Gotten that iPhone, made that team, made that grade… and it’s fun for a minute, but then there’s always another way that you don’t measure up? Another essential that you don’t have?
My question for you today – WHO DECIDES WHAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR LIFE? Is it the world? Or is it God? And if in the past season it’s been the world – that’s okay – but today your good Father wants to set you free from the cycle of performance and never measuring up, and take you someplace new.
2 Peter 1:3 says that “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” That God, through Jesus, has given us the essentials we need for a life of freedom. The world wants you to beg for scraps off their table like a dog, never having enough, and the only way we can get out of that is when we discover that we really do have everything we could ever need in Jesus, and it’s not just enough, it’s more than enough, it’s a Thanksgiving feast set before you and you have the seat of honor.
Everything you need is available to you in the person of Jesus. And what’s absolutely crazy is that if you look at the whole of scripture, there are only 5 things that are truly essential, (whisper) and you have access to every single one of them.
1. The Grace of God
2. The Spirit of God
3. The Word of God
4. The People of God
5. And the Mission of God
And over the next few weeks, we’ll talk about all of them but it’s important that this list starts with grace. Because everything in our life starts with the grace of God. We defined grace as the unmerited favor of God – getting what you don’t deserve, just how when we were deserving of death because of our sins Jesus instead gave us his righteousness (right standing with God). Its undeserved favor, it’s his supernatural empowerment in your life, and it’s the life of Jesus flowing through you. Grace is what forgives you, it sets you free, and it secures your future, and oh yeah – Grace isn’t just this concept we talk about in church, Grace is a person and his name is Jesus and everything starts when we receive his grace for ourselves.
And I get it, if you’re around much you hear this word all this time and it’s easy to think of it in theory, but not see how it actually changes the way I live, not really see it as something “essential” to my life. It’s okay if I don’t operate out of grace when I talk to my family, it’s okay if I’m not receiving Jesus’ grace for myself at school, it’s okay if I’m not aware of his grace while I’m online.
We see verses like 2 Cor 12:9 that say “My grace is all you need”
Or John 15:5 that says apart from Jesus and his grace we can do nothing. And we like those verses but we don’t actually want to be dependent on grace. We want to make the team because we deserve it, we want to have the friend group because we are good enough, we want to make the grade because we pulled an all-nighter studying for it.
We like being self-made, self-deserving men and women. We don’t like needing help. I remember when my family was going through a really hard time financially. And I couldn’t afford to do things like buy my friends birthday presents, or get lunch from school. And I remember one specific time when I was a kid, I was invited to a Christmas party and we were supposed to bring a new book for a book swap. But I couldn’t get a new book, so I pretended like I “forgot”, I was “too cool” to remember to bring a book. But I remember the mom hosting the party told me to follow her, she took me upstairs, and I watched her take a book off her daughter’s book shelf, wrap it, and give it to me, so that I could participate in the book swap.
The grace that she showed me forgave all the ways that I missed the mark, it gave me the freedom to not have to hide and pretend that I forgot, and it gave me a future to fully participate in the party.
Catch this –
Before Jesus came, anytime we showed up to the “party” of God’s presence, we walk in empty-handed and unable to fully participate. We make excuses because we don’t want people to know just how poor in spirit we really are, how insecure and hopeless we really are. But God pulled us to the side, took his son off the shelf, wrapped him in scars and a painful death on a cross, and freely gave it to us. Then he sent us back to the party, now fully able to participate, because our past has been forgiven, we can walk in freedom to today, and have a secured future full of hope tomorrow.
You have been given that grace. And for any place that you feel like you don’t measure up, anytime you mess up, any bondage or hardship you experience, any fear, insecurity, hopelessness – you remember that Jesus has included you in his family, has turned you from an orphan of this world into his beloved son or daughter. It changes the way you live. Now you don’t have to respond out of insecurity, now you don’t have to pay people back for what they did to you, now you can be kind because you’re not trying to push people away before they reject you.
Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God (Jesus) has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
New behavior only comes from a new identity. We are drawn by grace, and we are changed by grace. So the question today – is when was the last time you said “Jesus I need your grace today?” When was the last time you humbled yourself, put aside the performing and striving, and just let yourself be taken care of by your good Father?
Right now – close your eyes – say “Jesus I need your grace today”. Following Jesus is just saying that more often, and being more often aware that you already have it.