“Not Without Effect”
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”
I have a question for you this morning?
Have you ever been surprised by grace? I mean... honestly, truthfully “taken aback” by grace? By the grace shown to you by another person? Or by God?
When you expected to get punched in the nose... backhanded... when you expected wrath... when you expected rejection, condemnation, harshness... BUT... instead, you received kindness, forgiveness, warmth? And it shocked you! It caught you off guard.
Have you ever experienced a time when you received Grace... and you didn’t necessarily deserve it?
Maybe it was that time you were out past curfew... coming home later than you were supposed to come home... and your parents were standing inside the door... waiting... worried sick wondering where you might be. What kind of response did you get? We’re they more lenient than you expected? That’s grace.
Or, maybe you broke your mother’s favorite vase playing with a ball in the house... after she’d warned you time and again NOT to throw the ball in the house... and she didn’t kill you. That’s grace.
Do you remember wrecking your parents car when you were a teenager? What kind of response did you get? Did you get grounded... like the kid in the “Allstate” commercial... where he’s standing at the parent’s bedroom door, explaining himself after having “a very minor ‘fender-bender’ in an unreasonably narrow fast food drive thru lane...” and the mother cuts him off, “4 weeks without the car” - and he abruptly ends his excuses and accepts the grace as offered. The kid recognized grace!
The Apostle Paul said, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.”
God’s grace ALWAYS has an effect on our lives.
There’s power, there’s life... when we know we deserve condemnation... when we know we deserve judgment... but we get mercy, favor, love.
Paul knew, from firsthand experience, that God’s grace is effectual... God’s grace had changed his life!
He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees... he was a persecutor of those who followed Jesus: he didn’t deserve to be called an apostle! But grace changed all that. And because of God’s wonderful and amazing grace... Paul would dedicate the second half of his life to serving the Christ who offered him the grace he so desperately needed.
It’s the very same grace that you and I desperately need. And it’s the very same grace that you and I have experienced.
On Sunday mornings, I get to experience one of the best views in church - from the pulpit. As I look out and see the whole worshiping congregation... and as I scan the people in the pews, I think about their struggles, their stories and how the grace of God has been, and in fact, still is, working in their lives. I’m reminded: “His grace is not without effect.”
I see people, every week, who are grieving the loss of loved ones, but in the midst of their heartache, they still cling to the love of God that holds on to them. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see people who’ve undergoing serious tests - or who are recovering from surgery, who’ve placed their prayers and lives into the hands of the ultimate healer. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see parents who are bringing up their children the best way they know how... offering support and encouragement, while nurturing them in the Christian faith. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see men and women whose marriages and relationships are challenging at best - and they’re struggling to maintain a sense of identity and security, praying to God for help and guidance and peace. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see individuals who devote much of their time to the well-being of others, serving in the missions and ministry programs of our church. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see college students whose dreams are only just beginning - and whose hard work and determination will pay off - as God reveals his plan for their lives and brings them into that place where they can best serve him. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see young people who are still in school, trying to do the best they can - as they learn, and grow, and experience so many new things in life. They still have that beautiful wonder of God and Life which delights the whole church. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see and hear the infants, toddlers, and babies in our church and my heart is glad that they can find an extended loving family here, among God’s people, in God’s house. “His grace is not without effect.”
I see all of these things and all of these good people, and it humbles me. The grace of God is evident in all of our lives and it’s constantly amazing.
How do you and I experience the grace of God in our lives?
Anne Lamont said, “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”
Where do I see grace effectually changing the lives of others?
You and I, as followers of Christ, are agents of God’s grace (by the way)... and we can promote and share the grace of God that’s always greater than our sin... greater than our problem... greater than our worry... greater than our disease... God’s grace is greater than our situation.
God’s grace is always sufficient to supply our need.
Pray with me: Loving God, Your grace is amazing and we are constantly astounded by its presence in our lives. Sustain our wonder at Your works and our love of our Lord. Be with us and bless all of us with your grace as we share it with others. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.