One of my good friends who is a pastor in San Francisco sent me a text this week that said, “I feel sorry for the doctors, lawyers, politicians, counselors, news anchors and CEOs who regularly have to give bad reports and bad news to their constituents. We on the other hand get to stand before God’s children and declare every week, wonderful News! We are so blessed for this opportunity.”
All those people get paid more than pastors, but I will gladly make the trade.
We were created by God. He created us in his image.
That means that we WERE extraordinary! We WERE like God!
We looked like God…..we acted like God…..we had his characteristics.
Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
That is extraordinary! Humans were something else. However, when we take a look at ourselves now…wow! A lot has changed from the original plan. Look at your neighbor. Tell them, “you look good……but you don’t look like God.” Not exactly a picture of God, right?
Look at yourself in the mirror. You’re weird. Pretty ordinary. Needs improvement. Oh, I’m not talking about the façade you put on for everyone else. I’m talking about the real you.
What happened? It is explained in the Bible. Romans 5:17 (great source of answers in life)
In this one passage we see the reason for ‘ordinary’, we see the reason for darkness, and we see the person of light. Our Salvation.
Romans 5: 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous… 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In that last verse, there is one word that stands out above all else: GRACE
Instead of sin ruling, wonderful grace rules!
The word used for grace in the Bible originally came from the Greek word Charis. Meaning: the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; benefit, favor, gift, joy, liberality, pleasure.
Basically, what it is saying is that: THE GRACE OF JESUS BRINGS BACK “THE EXTRAORDINARY”. We’re bringing it back!
Actually, He brought it back. Grace Brings Extraordinary Back to Humanity. It was locked in sin and death, but Jesus overcame sin and death to unlock the potential of humanity and bring back our God like qualities.
The Grace of JESUS CHRIST takes ordinary people (like you and me) and makes them EXTRAORDINARY for the sole purpose of building HIS Kingdom.
By the grace of God, I am extraordinary.
He doesn’t make us extraordinary to make all of our wishes come true, or be whatever we set our mind to be, rich, famous, whatever…. He is not santa. He is God.
He empowers us to build his kingdom.
His Grace makes us extraordinary in 3 Key ways:
His GRACE Empowers us to face pain and difficulty in EXTRAORDINARY ways.
If you have faced pain or difficulty lately, I have really good news for you. The GRACE of God can empower you to face that pain and difficulty in an extraordinary way.
A few years back, our family was on vacation. We rented a huge RV and went all the way to North Carolina and back! So fun. It was an extraordinary trip. Love family vacays!
However, there was one day on that trip that stands out from all the rest. We were at some friends’ house on the outskirts of Atlanta. We were swimming, having fun and decided to load up all the family in the RV and leave. We headed to downtown Atlanta to the Georgia Aquarium. About an hour drive through traffic to the aquarium. Trying to find a parking spot in downtown Atlanta for a 32’ Winnabago. Not easy! We finally found a spot on the rougher side of the area. Just before we parked, we started getting ready to go and I said, let’s get Kennady in her chair so that when we park, we can simply hit the door and go to the aquarium. (our daughter is unable to walk so she is in a wheelchair.)
Erica gets up to get Kennady in her chair and she looks around…. “Where did you put the chair?” “I didn’t get the chair, I thought you did.” WE FORGOT KENNADY’S CHAIR at our friends’ house. What do we do? I had the bright idea! Maybe the aquarium has a loner chair. We could go get her chair tomorrow when we head back home. So we park the RV. I pick up Kennady and carry her 4 blocks to the aquarium. When we get to the aquarium, we get the wheelchair and it is the size for a small elephant. Kennady is very thin. So, I sit in the chair and hold her and we tour the place.
We actually had a really good time in the aquarium. We stay until closing time and start our long journey back to the RV. I’m carrying, huffing and puffing. Rocking it! When we get like a block from the RV, I’m starting to fade, I say, “babe, why don’t you get the key from my pocket so you can unlock the door.” I going to drop when we get there. She starts digging in my pockets. “What pocket did you put the keys in? I Can’t find the keys.” We had lost the keys! We looked all over the ground. At the RV. We went back to the aquarium asked them to let us in, we walked all around the aquarium. No Keys.
We went back to the RV and called a locksmith. He picked the lock to get in the outside of the RV. But there is a separate key for the inside with a special chip. Oh no, we aren’t getting this done anytime soon. Got the kids inside. It’s dark outside. Not a very safe place to be. No key. Can’t go anywhere. Locksmith gives up. We have to call another one. It takes 2 hours for him to get there. In the meantime, it’s midnight, we hear: bump bump bump. We look out of the curtains and see a scantily-clad woman dancing on a car in the alley way. There were lights, cameras. They were filming a rap video next to the RV. Finally, at 1:30am and $350 later, we got a key. We drove off to a Walmart parking lot and spent the night. Vacation! Yeah! Extraordinary!
BUT THE extraordinary thing about that story is not that we found a wheelchair or a locksmith finally got us a key. The extraordinary thing about that story is that none of those “bad” things had anything to do with the fact that our 14yr old daughter is not able to walk, talk, eat, sit up, or do anything on her own other than watch TV. Our other two kids are deathly allergic to eggs, wheat, and all nuts.
It is extraordinary that our marriage is healthy. The divorce rate is high in America, but it is even higher for parents of special needs kids. It extraordinary that we love each other. That we love our daughter. That we aren’t bitter or angry or upset. It is extraordinary that people have no clue we have a daughter with such severe special needs until we finally tell them. Then, you can see their face go…….?
I AM NOT BRAGGING ON ME AND ERICA. I am bragging on the GRACE of God.
If it wasn’t for the GRACE of God I would be a wreck.
2 Corinthians 4:7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 8 We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh.
Jesus’ life revealed in my mortal flesh is extraordinary. I’m speaking to some people who can’t seem to get ahead in life and the news seems to keep getting worse.
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!
His GRACE Delivers us from the grip of sin addiction, illness, and demonic influence.
I could try to tell you about the Grace of God in Jerry McDonald’s life, but not as good as Jerry. Take a look at what God has done in his Life!
Jerry and his lovely wife Jo were the backbone of PromiseLand’s flood relief last year.
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
If God can set Jerry free, he can set you free. He God can heal Jerry, he can heal you. We have people all across this congregation today that have been healed, saved, delivered from addiction, heartache, depression, divorce, bankruptcy and all kinds of diagnosis.
His GRACE Excels us in our talents, skills, and abilities beyond our experience or education.
In 2006, the devil had Tony on the ropes. Little did he know what the Grace of God could do. Check out his story. (video)
1 Corinthians 2:9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 John 4: 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
I’m not sure what your story is. You might relate more to Jerry, or Dr Cedrone, or me or you might be totally different from all of us. REGARDLESS, the Grace of God is ready to start redefining your character. The Storyline of God is ready to adopt your storyline.
Have the faith today to start seeing your life in the lens of God’s grace and start praying about how you could complete this sentence:
By the Grace of God, I _________________
By the Grace of God, I will finish school.
By the Grace of God, I will raise good kids.
By the Grace of God, I will support my family.
By the Grace of God, I will overcome this addiction to pain pills
By the Grace of God, I will success at my job.
By the Grace of God, I will be a man or woman of integrity.
Over the next few weeks we are going to continue this sermon series. I want to encourage you to attend next Sunday. Remember that verse I just read, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect..”
PromiseLand is a great place for your life to continue in God and grow stronger in his love.
His Grace is REAL.
His Grace is AVAILABLE to anyone who would surrender and trust in Him.