Watch James Caldemeyer I am second Video. Did you hear him say, “How did I get here?” Have you ever asked yourself that? You feel like life has been so out of control, there is no coming back. It’s like you crossed a line that eliminates you from ever going back to a normal life.
Maybe you didn’t cross that line, but maybe you have done something, and you think, ‘I blew it, God will never accept me.’ Have you ever thought that? Do you believe you have done so many bad things you could never be loved by God?
Maybe you feel sad, depressed or alone and you have begun to believe that no one could ever understand you. You see on Instagram how happy others are. You see how much fun everyone else is having. You see how many friends everyone else has. Maybe you have concluded that you are alone and rejected. You wonder, ‘Maybe I am just different.’
Maybe you have lived what people would consider, a good life. You haven’t been perfect, but you have always tried to make good choices. Then out of nowhere, something terrible happens. A health-scare. A car accident. An unexpected death of a loved one. Immediately, it throws your mind into, ‘God is mad at me.’ Do you believe, when something bad happens, you have been rejected by God or you are being punished by God?
All these scenarios leave us feeling alone. Separated from God and others. Defeated. We aren’t walking through life with the courage that comes from knowing God loves me. That feeling like, I know to my core, God accepts me. We don’t have that courage, that joy, that passion. We don’t pray with confidence that God is listening and acting on our behalf. We don’t feel comfortable praying and when we do it feels robotic and clunky. We struggle to engage our spouses, our kids, our friends. We find it easier disconnecting and focusing on ourselves.
Why is this? Because we don’t fully understand God’s grace. If we fully understood and experienced God’s grace, we wouldn’t feel like we are limping along through life. And that is what I want to talk about today: God’s grace.
Let’s start with this scripture.
22 We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. NLT Romans 3:21-25
Do you see that section ‘…no matter who you are or what we have done?’ That’s for you. You need to hold on to that. It needs to be something you keep in front of you. When you ask Jesus Christ to take away your sin, you are made right with God. And by the way, God did that. It’s all what God did. God sent Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus hung on that cross for hours and took on all your sin and hurts. The sins and hurts of the world, poured out on Jesus and crushed him and killed Him. He then came back to life and defeated death.
And in all of that, you had nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with what you do. It has nothing to do with what you can accomplish. It has nothing to do with all the good you can do. It is 100% what God brings to you. All you need to do is ask Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and you are made right with God. That’s God’s grace.
And there is more.
Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. MSG Romans 6:14
That means, you have spiritual power from God to break away from sin. You have spiritual power from God to live in freedom. You have spiritual power to enter the day with courage. That also means the reverse. If you are walking through life and feeling alone, separated from God and others, defeated, you might be allowing sin to tell you how to live. It can take time to learn how to break away from old patterns to create new patterns. Hear me, you are not living in the freedom of God.
To better understand grace, I want to share a story that Jesus told.
11 Then Jesus said, “There was once a man who had two sons. 12 The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ “So the father divided the property between them. 13 It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. 14 After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. 15 He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. 16 He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. Luke 15:11-24
That is a picture of us today. Many times we have ignored God to do life our way. We live life on our terms. We have endless reasons why doing life God’s way will never work out for us. Then we hit the wall. We thought we controlled life and discover, we have no control. Bankruptcy. Divorce. Failed business. Health scare. Addictions. Anxiety, fear, stress. Etc. In our moment of crises, we can look back and see all the wrong decisions we have made and feel like we failed. Life has a way of wearing us down. We are tired. We are frustrated. And worst of all, we look around and God isn’t there for us. It’s like being knee deep in slop and feeding pigs.
Let’s keep reading.
17 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. 18 I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; 19 I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ 20 He got right up and went home to his father. Luke 15:11-24
Isn’t this interesting? Years earlier, the son rebels against his father. He ends his relationship with his family. He leaves to do life his way. He goes on to make one awful decision after another and it ruins his life. When he is feeding pigs, he comes to his senses. He knew he blew it. He knew he didn’t deserve to be called ‘son’ ever again. He lost all rights to be called ‘son’. But, he was willing to go back and be a servant.
Do you walk through life like this? Do you feel like a ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ to God or do you feel more like a servant to God? A ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ of God walks through life feeling like God accepts them and loves them to their core. A ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ of God prays with confidence knowing that God is listening and acting on their behalf. A ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ of God walks with courage, joy, passion.
A servant doesn’t. They are willing to give up the identity of ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ to be called, ‘servant’. They feel separated from God so they settle. They settle to work for God. They settle to do religious activity. They don’t feel comfortable praying. They walk with insecurity. They are afraid.
Do you view yourself as a ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ to God or do you view yourself as a servant?
Do you see what is going on with this young man in the story? He has an identity crisis. I think it’s our struggle too. He is the son of his father, but he is willing to give-up that identity for the title of ‘servant’.
We have to keep reading to find out what happens because he goes home.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ 22 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! 24 My son is here – given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. MSG Luke 15:11-24
His father was looking and waiting for him. His heart was pounding in His chest, excited to see him. He runs after his son to hug him. The son begins to explain how he doesn’t deserve love and his father ignores his son’s willingness to be called ‘servant’. His father calls him ‘son’ and has a party to celebrate him.
Can I tell you something beautiful? You may not be ready to hear it, but here it goes. This story is about you. It’s about God’s love for you. God’s grace. If you have asked, ‘How did I get here?’ this story is for you. If you believe you have done so many bad things God could never accept you, this story is for you. If you feel sad, depressed or alone, this story is for you. If you believe, something bad has happened to me because God is rejecting me or at least is punishing me, this story is for you.
Let me tell you about God’s grace for you. He is waiting for you. When you take one step toward Him, his heart pounds with excitement because He has been waiting for you. He will run to you, hug you. And in that moment, you will want to cry out and say, “God, I don’t deserve Your love. I have sinned. I made bad decisions. God, I don’t deserve to be called ‘your son’ or ‘your daughter’. God, I am willing to settle and be a servant or be religious.” God ignores all of that and he will say ‘you are my son’ or ‘you are my daughter’ and celebrate you.
And for those of you who have been Christians for years. You might think this story is for people new to God. And if you believe that, I would say, you probably need God more today than the first day you met him.
The struggle many Christians have is after they accept Jesus Christ as their savior, they get used to living without God. Living without grace. It’s like they run to God, experience His grace and then start working for their dad. They never go back to hang out with their Father because they are so busy working in the fields. Over time they have all the right information, but they are hard workers. They accomplish a lot, but they haven’t experienced a relationship with their dad.
How do you know? Simple. Ask yourself, do I feel alone? Do I feel separated from God or others? Do I feel defeated? Feeling this way over time leaves us feeling dry inside. We may not live with the courage that comes from knowing you are loved by God to your core. We may not pray with confidence that comes when you believe my father is listening and acting on my behalf.
Can you imagine what it would be like to start your day with God accepting you, loving you, heart pounding with joy to call you ‘son’ or ‘daughter’? You will think, “God, I don’t deserve Your love. God, I’ve blown it again. God, I will never be who I want to be. God, I’m okay being a religious person.” And God, with His heart pounding with joy, will ignore you and He will call you ‘my son’ or ‘my daughter’ and tell you that He loves you.
When you feel like a mess, you need God’s grace again. When you feel alone, separated from God and others, you need God’s grace again. When you feel defeated, you need God’s grace again. It changes everything.
Do you feel alone?
Do you feel separated from God and others?
Do you feel defeated in life?
Before I ask this next question, how many years have you been a Christian? Do you view yourself as the ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ of God? Or do you view yourself like a ‘servant’ or the person going through the religious motions?
Do you walk through life with courage?
Do you pray with the confidence that your father is listening and acting on your behalf?
Think about that feeling the son had coming home. His father ran up to hug him. The son says, “Dad, I don’t deserve to be your son.” He heard his father say, ‘You are son.’ Is that your experience with God?
It’s called grace.