Coleta United Methodist Church

You are everywhere!

Psalm 139:7-13Common English Bible (CEB)

7 Where could I go to get away from your spirit? Where could I go to escape your presence? 8 If I went up to heaven, you would be there. If I went down to the grave,[a] you would be there too! 9 If I could fly on the wings of dawn, stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean— 10 even there your hand would guide me; even there your strong hand would hold me tight! 11 If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me; the light will become night around me,” 12 even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you! Nighttime would shine bright as day, because darkness is the same as light to you! 13 You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.

Let me ask you. What word would best describe God for you? What phrase, what set of words could describe God for you? I will tell you mine. It goes like this. God is love. God loves. God loves you, God loves us. God loves me. Summarize this all, God is love.

I have a female friend who has a twenty-four month baby girl. My friend loves her daughter to death. The daughter is cute. She is on Instagram and she puts her daughter’s pictures everyday. Now the daughter learns how to talk so she is very talkative. My friend told me she is on a diet. She told me the reason why she started a diet was because of her daughter. One day they were home and her daughter was eating ice-cream. She is crazy about ice-cream. She was eating ice cream too much. So my friend told her daughter, “Lianna, Don’t eat ice-cream too much, If you eat ice-cream too much, you will get sick and also get fat.” So Lianna replied to mom with this sweetest, innocent voice, “like you, mommy?” Lianna was innocent. Well, and then it got my friend, her mom to start a diet.

Those kinds of moments are precious, right? My friend used be pretty wild when she was single, when she was non mom. But now she is so different. I cannot even believe she is the same person that I’d known for years. Her focus is always on Lianna. Her priority in her life is her daughter. My friend is now a totally different person because of her daughter. You guys have kids and grandkids, you must know what it means to be a parent or grandparent to such lovely kids, right? Love is that strong. Love can change us. And you know what? God also has a son that God loves so much, and God gave the son for us.

If you ever want to know how much I love you, if you ever want to know how deeply I care for you, consider this; I gave my only son for your sins as a sacrifice for your sins just so I can have a relationship with you today. That’s how much I love you.
Can you understand this love? I can’t understand this love. I mean, I can begin to have a glimpse of it, but I can hardly get over the hump. It is so amazing, it is so divine that God loves us in such a way. We call this grace. It is one of the finest words ever made. Grace is unearned, unfavored love of God that God has for every single person on this planet! It is a gift of God’s unconditional love through Jesus and grace has so many facets to it that like a jeweler holding up a diamond to light to examine all the different part of it. Today we are going to examine grace. No one, no sermon series couldn’t begin even to describe grace and all of its fullness, but I am going to give my best to do it.

And I want to say this from the beginning that grace is grace. God doesn’t give us a little bit of grace here and there. Not just a piece of grace, no. God gives us all the time what the Bible says, “the full measure of God’s grace” towards us. But Grace is so important in the way we experience it, that Christians, we begin to develop adjectives around grace to describe in the different ways we were experiencing it. So it is like we have hundreds of words for snow, so Christians have many words that describe God’s grace. A guy whose name was John Wesley, the man who got used to begin a revival in the Church of England. Actually the reason we are sitting here is because of this guy, John Wesley. We are a Methodist Church after all. He understood there is only one grace but it comes in different ways, we experience it in different definable stages of life. My dear friends, there’s not a moment you’ve been alive that God hasn’t loved you, do you know that? Not a single second in your life! There’s not a moment in your life that God doesn’t love you. I hope to convince you of that today, and this morning, I want to spend more time talking about God’s grace, that was active in the beginning of our lives. Maybe before we were even aware of it. And Methodists call this grace “prevenient grace.” I am going to talk about grace for the next three Sundays, and I want to start with prevenient grace. God’s grace was and is at work in our lives, long before we recognized it. God’s grace is present “even there.” God’s grace is everywhere. No matter where we are on our lives, God’s grace is even there. To begin to understand this, to begin to gain fuller understanding of God’s grace, we have to first take a look at the Bible. And understand what is the Bible all about after all. You know what, I think I’ve started to figure it out. Bible is a dynamic love story between God and God’s people. Yes, that’s what the book is about. Bible is not something else, something hard to understand. No. Bible is the best love story that is ever told. Because how far do you think God would go to convince us of the love that God has for us? If God gave us the only son for everyone here today, what would you think God would stop that to convince us that God loves us? Where would you draw the line? Well let me ask you this. Have you ever been in love? Let me show you a short video of compilations of wedding proposals. (video) Isn’t that beautiful? All the things that the guys did in the video, asking people to hand flowers over to her, having a band to celebrate their best moment of their lives, having a drone flying around them so that they can capture the proposal moment on the top of the mountain, everything they did was to hear “yes” from their fiancee. All the efforts that they made is only to hear “yes” for their covenantal relationship that will last forever. Yes! And you know what? God does the same thing to us everyday. That’s the way we love here on earth. How does God love us? How does God pursue us? God is constantly seeking for us to accept God’s proposal of love and relationship in our lives. How much more, what links could God take and does God take to reach out to us. That is what this prevenient grace is all about. Bible tells us how much God loves us over and over again about God’s efforts to win us to Godself, to God’s love. Until we come to realize and recognize the love, our souls will never be at peace. Saint Augustine put it this way, “Our hearts are restless until they rest indeed.” Don’t we long for that rest? God knows that deepest desire of your heart. It wants to feel and experience the extravagant love of God. Here is the deal. God will not stop convincing us of God’s love. God will not stop seeking us, chasing after us, and trying to convince us of God’s love for us . And if you and I have someone who’s far away from God, if you have a brother, a sister, a friend, or even your child who is far from God, maybe you’ve given up on them, here is the good news. God has not given up. God is not gonna quit chasing them. God is persistent. God is tireless. God is lovingly resolved to convince us to simply receive God! God just keeps going and going and going like an energizer bunny because God is love. Oswald Chambers, the famous writer once said, “Sometimes I wish God just leave me alone, and God does not.” There is a relentless tenderness. God loves us. God has been seeking us in our whole lives, and God doesn’t give up. But you might be thinking, “Pastor, you don’t know my life. You don’t know where Ive been. You don’t know the amount of sin, of doubt. It permeates my life. You don’t know the amount of resentment and worry. You don’t know the type of the mess that I’ve had in my life. I am far far away from God.” And I bet you today. Listen to these good words. God will not only do anything to reach you, God will go anywhere to get you. That is grace. Did you catch that? God will do anything, God will go anywhere to find you with God’s grace. Psalm 139 puts it best. Let ’s read it out loud. (slide 1) Where could I go to get away from your spirit? Where could I go to escape your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there.  If I went down to the grave,[a] you would be there too! If I could fly on the wings of dawn, stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—  even there your hand would guide me; even there your strong hand would hold me tight! (slide 2) If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me; the light will become night around me,” even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you! Nighttime would shine bright as day,  because darkness is the same as light to you! You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.

Now consider this passage together just for a moment. How far would God go to reach you? Where is God? God is where? Even there, right? God is where? Even there! When we are on top of the world, when we are experiencing wealth and everything, when we are in the highest height, on the top of the ladder of success, God is even there. God is also in the lowest low. Many of us found ourselves in the place of sorrows, in the place of despair, in the place of doubt, in the valleys of the shadow of death, we find God is where? Even there! God is everywhere! We have been to the far side of the sea, we thought we could run away from the reality of God, we just move just far away as we thought humanly possible from God, and then we turn around. And there is Jesus. I am here! I love you! I just came over here to tell you! God is even there!

How far would God’s grace reach? Look again at the last verse. (slide 3) “You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still (Let’s read it out loud) in my mother’s womb.” How far back is that? That’s pretty far, wouldn’t you agree? God’s grace doesn’t just pursue around us now. God’s grace is present even before we were born! From our conception, God’s love is even there. This is why we baptize babies around here because we believe that God’s grace is present and active in their life long before they knew it. You see none of us can take credit for the decision that we made to follow Jesus. Everything is God’s grace. Even the decision to follow Jesus comes as a result of God’s work in our lives.

Many of us spend our lives trying to find God’s will, but you know what I lately learn? The reality is instead of finding God’s will, God’s will often find us. The guy’s name is Saul. He is one of the darkest character in the Book of Acts. As you read this story, In the earliest pages of the Book of Acts, you see how Saul was present at the first murder that took place of a Christian, a guy whose name was Steven. And he sat out on a campaign to travel to a nearby town where Christians were hiding so he can round them up and bring them back to Jerusalem. Saul hated Christians and he wanted to persecute them for their belief. And yet on the way, where was God? Even there! Jesus shows up, knocks him right off his horse, blinds him for three days. Thus it begins this incredible love affair between late name Paul. Saul’s name was changed, Paul and Jesus. They had this deep intimate relationship, this intimate friendship together. God was there. God was even there and looking back when Paul was writing his letters in the New Testament. I am sure his own path was on his mind as he wrote these words from Romans chapter 5. Let’s read this out loud together. Ready. (slide 4) “8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, CEB) While we were what? Still sinners! That is grace. I once heard someone who became a Christian at his age 30 talked about the prevenient grace and I really believe what he said sums up best about the prevenient grace. (slide 5) “The God who I didn’t believe believed in me.” The God I didn’t believe believed in me. God has taken the risk, hasn’t God? God is taking the risk for us to be relationship and God gives us the opportunity, even empower us to choose God. But God will not force us. God’s prevenient grace simply makes us respons-able. Then how do we respond to God’s grace activity? (slide 6)Number one. I acknowledge God was there. As you look back a real view mirror of your life, can you see how God was active? Even before you knew it? That’s your homework this week. I want you to take some time and look back over your life because I know God has been there weaving the beautiful love story with you even before you knew about it! God was active in your life. Look back at your road travel so far and read the love story that God has been writing in your life.

(slide) No.2 I rejoice that God is here. Sometimes babies amaze me. About a year or two years ago we didn’t have those babies, Jovie, Rayce, Broadie and Cameron, but all of sudden, not all of sudden to their parents, but to me one day they just popped up and now, they are just indescribable joy in my life! God is right here, right?

(slide) 3. I celebrate that God will always be here. We celebrate that together, don’t we? You know what? I am sometimes worried. In fact I am a professional worrier. I can worry about things very professionally. I am not necessarily worried about today, I am worried about tomorrow. I know there are many people who sing “tomorrow, tomorrow! There’s always tomorrow!” And I am thinking to myself, “That’s only a day away.” That’s why this message is so important to me and to you. It’s grace that brought us safe this far. It is grace that will lead us home!

God’s grace is everywhere, God’s grace is even there! Even now God is seeking you to say yes, now God is pursuing you and trying to convince you to believe that God loves you so much. God is making all the efforts to have a deep and intimate relationship with you. Please say “Yes!” To God’s ‘even there’, ‘everywhere’ grace. Thanks be to God!! Amen.