God Wants to Give Us the Gift of Grace; Experiencing It Lets Us Share It with the World

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The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently at National Presbyterian Church by the Rev. Gareth W. Icenogle:

We come to you, Lord Jesus, because we are weary. We are weary of the complexity of life, the busyness, the intensity, the pain, the frustration. We are weary of trying everything to accomplish our own agendas, and we are worn out. We ask now that your Word would speak to us, your grace would find us and that we would find you and come home.

The Protestant Church talks a lot about grace. But what is grace? Probably the right question is, who is grace? We find grace in this very simple statement from the Gospel of John: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son." A God of love is the God that we worship, a God who has created us. But we know grace because God has given us the ultimate gift. It is the giving part of love that is grace, for grace is a gift. There is nothing we can do to make it happen. We cannot work hard, we cannot plan it, we cannot plead for it, we cannot sacrifice ourselves for it. It is simply a gift from God a God who gives, a God of grace.

What is grace? It is the God who gives a God of love who will sacrifice anything to reach us. But grace always has an expectation attached to it, and this is where often our Protestant heritage fails us. Grace is given by God so that we will have our lives changed. We will not be the same. We will turn away from patterns that reject God, and we will engage God in everyday life. Grace demands a change. We cannot earn the grace, but grace spins out from us as an earnest commitment to live out the grace for other people. When you have a gift, you are called to share a gift. This is built into our National Presbyterian Church mission statement: that we experience the grace of God, we are a ministry of grace, and we become passionate about Christ's mission in the world.

Grace is a gift. Grace comes to us when we cannot find God on our own. God finds us. Grace gives us the freedom to choose how we will live. The prodigal son in the story is given the freedom by the father to go and blow his life. Scripture says that he lived his life in dissolution. …