This is about obstacles to grace. God through Jesus has given us his grace to be in a personal relationship with him. But, being the way we are because of sin, we aren’t always able to receive the grace given freely to us by our God.
Sin gets in the way of God’s grace. Sin is all about us doing it by ourselves, thinking that we know how to get right without any help from our creator. Sin is turning our backs on God and “doin’ it our way” as Laverne and Shirley liked to say it.
Our humanness is one our obstacles to receiving God’s precious gift to us. The world continually attacks and bombards us with reasons not to follow the ways of Jesus the Christ. We need this car or that house so that we can be defined as someone who has it all together, to be accepted by the world that surrounds us. When we let this keep us from God’s word and grace that is an obstacle to receiving the precious gift God has for us.
Paul called it “rebellion, refusing to be subject to him. God’s seen as the enemy rather than as our savior. We want to be in control of our lives. Nobody is going to tell us what to do. We want to be “God.”
Remember when our parents would tell us “no” and we’d say “yes” and they’d say “yes you will” and you’d say “no I won’t?” God asks us to say “yes” to his gift of grace and we answer with “no, I’m okay the way I am.” Our independence is an obstacle to God’s gift of grace.
Sin is such a powerful addiction that it’s a miracle that it can be overcome at all. But friends, we don’t have to let sin control how we live. It is powerful but there is something greater than sin.
Let me tell you a story about myself. And some of you may be able to relate to this. I said that sin is an addiction. I call it an addiction because it is so powerful that we don’t see any way that we can get away from its clutches. It’s kind of like my addiction to tobacco was. I smoked my first cigarette when I was a junior in high school. And then I left home and went to college. My parents were no where around to tell me “no.” I couldn’t hear their words admonishing me for smoking. Everyday my addiction got stronger and stronger. For thirty years I let it control my life. I tried to quit “cold turkey” and I’d be successful for a day or so, but then I went right back to where I was before.
I’d talk to others who had been successful in conquering this demon. They said you had to really want to quit before you’d be able to really quit. Doctor Swanson told me the same thing.
So I continued doing what I’d always done until finally I couldn’t take it any more. I went to the one who could really help me and asked for help. You see I tried to do it all by myself and it never worked. It wasn’t until I went to God and asked for his help and believed that He would help that I was successful.
Now it wasn’t only just coming to him in prayer that was the key that released me from this prison I’d put myself into. It was God removing every obstacle I had erected that allowed me to receive his grace. It began with prayer. My faith in God and his ability to help me grew stronger as I spent more time in his word allowing it to speak to my heart.
Obstacles to receiving God’s grace are overcome when we come to God in prayer and hear his words of grace to us. But that’s not the sum total of it. It’s not just prayer and God’s word. We have to come to the realization that we need to change our ways. Our old way of doing life has to “die” so that we can “live” new lives doing it the “right” way, God’s way. It’s kind of like my addiction to tobacco. I had to change what I had been doing and find a new way. What I had been trying time after time wasn’t working. I had to find a new way. And for me it was to stop trying to do it myself and picking up the yoke of Jesus Christ and letting him help me.
Friends, don’t get me wrong. I still struggle with sin. In fact, I feel my sin more today than I did before I asked Jesus to come back into my life. When I continue to do the things that I know I shouldn’t and can’t seem to do the things that Jesus asked me to my heart breaks and I ask God to forgive me and have mercy on my soul.
And then I get up and trust that God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can endure. But, friends, I am tempted. And I don’t believe my struggle with sin will end until that day I get to go to the other side to be with my savior, Jesus the Christ.
Good friends, you will encounter obstacles to receiving God’s free gift of grace. Just don’t let these obstacles define you and keep you from God’s gift for you, his child. Keep God’s word ever before you. Read it, study it, pray it, contemplate and meditate on it day and night and you will find that you are dying to your old ways and slowly but surely beginning to live more and more as a child of God.
Recognize and identify the obstacles in your life that are hindering you from God’s grace. Open your heart and soul. Allow yourself to be transformed and freed from the power of sin. You may think it’s way hard but my friends, once you commit yourself to it you’ll wonder why it took you so long. You’ll kick yourself for waiting so long to experience this wonderful gift of grace.
Friends, don’t wait another minute. Give yourself completely to the one who is calling you to him. Let him remove the shackles that have you so tied up. God’s grace is sufficient; it’s all we need. His strength comes into its own in our weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9
My friends, God loves you and so do I. Amen.