Andy Stoddard ~ Grace Upon Grace

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Grace is not a one-time thing.  It’s really not.  God doesn’t just see our sins, forgive us one time, and then choose to be done with us forever. No, God constantly gives us grace.

God gives us grace to forgive us, He gives us grace to empower us, He gives us grace to lead us.  For us, and for the world, grace is not a one-time thing.  It’s over and over and over again.  I am thankful that God is always lavishing us with grace and mercy.

That’s how it works between us and God.

But how should it work between us?  God always forgives us when we ask Him, but what about you and me? What are we to do when we keep messing up and falling short?  I mean, really, can’t they get it right?  How much grace do they get?  Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 18: 21-22: “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'”

Now, notice what Peter asks.  He says, what if another member of the church sins against me?  Two things pop out.  One is, “sins against me.”  That means does something to harm that relationship.  Something that’s not good, something harmful and destructive.

Something that may leave a mark.  Something that really may just hurt.

That’s tough to deal with.  Tough to work through.  Tough to process.  It’s not easy.

What else jumped out at me?  “Another member of the church.”  Someone that’s family.  As Christians, we are called to love. That’s one of our main commands and duties as believers, to love. We are called to love, because God is love. That’s our purpose and our mission.

Love the world.  Love each other. But especially love each other, because we are family.

Church, we’ve got to love each other.  If in your congregation you are always fussing among yourselves, then why would the world want to be part of you?  Sometimes the fights are over worship, or leadership, or a million different things.

Jesus tells us what to do: Love.  Forgive.  Show mercy. Be graceful.

Even when “they” don’t deserve it.  Because we don’t deserve it either.  That’s why it’s grace.  It’s never earned or deserved.  It’s always, always, always given and received.

Today, you and I have received grace from our loving God.  Today, may we show that grace to the world, and especially to those we do life with. Because loving each other may be one of our biggest witnesses to the world.

In a world that is angry and bitter and hurting, folks want to know that they are loved.  When we as the church live that out in our day to day lives, I truly believe that we can change the world.

Today, may we show grace!

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Andy Stoddard is the Lead Pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Madison, MS. He is the husband of Holly and the father of Sarah and Thomas. And besides all the important things (faith and family) he lives and dies with Ole Miss athletics.

Read more at www.revandy.org

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