Maintaining Love to Thousands

Grace isn't us working harder. Grace is God at work.

Scripture References & Transcript

Exodus 34:6-7

Romans 3:19-24

Exodus 34:1

Exodus 34:7

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Romans 5:6-8

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

2 Corinthians 5:18

2 Corinthians 5:19

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

2 Corinthians 5:21

Good morning to you. Welcome to church. I’m so grateful that you’re here. I wonder this morning, have you ever given a gift to someone that they received differently than you expected them to react? There’s actually a new list out ahead of Mother’s Day. It just came out last week. It’s the five items not to buy your mom. Okay? So pay attention a number five on the list, Walmart gift card, okay, right. Number four, a weed whacker. Number three was a item I’ve literally never thought to buy my mom. Hair removal Kit <laugh>. Number two, a scale. Oh gosh. And number one, we can all guess what’s number one. Vacuum. A vacuum. That’s right. Don’t buy mom a vacuum. Now some of these I’m like, okay, but I thought, what’s wrong with a quality weed whacker? Like I think, I think mom would really be blessed with one.

But a few weeks ago we started this series through Exodus 34, which contains one of the most detailed explanations of who God is anywhere in scripture. And each week we’ve come and we’ve really specifically only looked at two verses, verses six and verses seven, that define the very character of God as he passes in front of Moses. And he proclaims these descriptive statements, the Lord, the Lord, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Only two verses that make up this entire six week sermon series, but full of just powerful truth and detail about the very character of God. But, but I think of all the weeks, this is a week where the backstory really the full context is necessary for our talk. Because actually Exodus 34 is the continuation of a very different story.

Exodus 34 is really the continuation of probably one of the most well-known stories in all of scripture certainly would be one of the most well-known stories of the Old Testament. And it’s a story also found in Exodus, and it’s the story of the 10 Commandments. Okay? Now you’ve probably all remember when you learn the story of the 10 Commandments, for some of you there was a felt board involved and you were sitting there in a circle. But we all can remember when we learned the, the lesson of these 10 rules. And if I gave you permission this morning to mumble, you could probably get all 10, right? We would be able to say something like, uh, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t drink, don’t chew, don’t go out with girls who do. That’s what they said in Texas. That was the, that was the Texas version of the 10 Commandments, I think.

But we learned these rules, these 10 rules, and we are supposed to keep them right? I was a kid’s pastor just like Kurt was. That’s actually how pastor Kurt and I met. And many times I would counsel with a kid and I would say, tell me what sin is. And that kid would say, breaking the 10 Commandments, because we kind of grow up learning the story. Hey, keep these rules. Don’t break these rules. If we break these rules, it’s not good, right? That’s kind of the deal we’re kind of done. The reality is though, that’s not the deal at all. But that’s certainly how the Israelites viewed it, right? The Israelites did not see the gift that the 10 Commandments were the way God intended for them to see it. They didn’t understand what a big deal it was. They didn’t understand as a result and why Moses was taking so long.

How is this possible? It’s like when I’m in the car and I’m waiting for my wife and my daughters to get ready. It’s like, how is this humanly possible? It’s because I don’t understand and they don’t understand the whole backstory behind this. And so as we’ve seen both Gary and Kurt lay out, they begin to worship this golden calf. They don’t understand the heart behind the gift. And Moses comes down and he sees their disobedience and he shatters the 10 Commandments and he cries out to God because they didn’t understand the heart behind the gift. And then when we go to Romans three, Myron actually just did a great job of kind of setting the table for us. Because when we go to Romans chapter three, beginning of verse 19, we actually get an explanation. We actually get a detailed reasoning of of how they were supposed to view the gift and how we are supposed to view the gift this morning.

Because Romans chapter three explains the very gift like this. It says, now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God because by the works, notice this, by the works of the law, know flesh will be justified in his sight. And now we’re gonna see the reason why. This is why for through the law comes the knowledge of sin, right? It was never God’s plan for us being obedient to the law, never messing up to be what saved us. That’s never what God intended. He sent the law so that we would see it as a gift. It was a gift so that we would see how imperfect we are and how perfect he is. It was a gift so that we could see his glory and his majesty on display so that we could see his love for us.

Because just like a loving parent, he’s giving us guardrails. Say, Hey, your, your life will include less pain and less stress if we stay inside these guardrails. Because we see in verse 21 that apart from the law, God had a different plan altogether. Apart from the law, the righteousness of God was manifested. How did it come to be? Well, it’s witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through here it is faith in Jesus Christ. For all those who believe, for there is no distinction. Now pay attention to verse 23. You learned it as an at a, at an early age as a young kid, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Every single person in this room this morning has fallen short of the perfect plan that God had for you and your life when he created you.

Every single one of us falls short. The Israelites did it, then we do it now. Our sin and our disobedience keep us from being all that God dreamed up for us to be when he created our life. Every single one of us fails and every single one of us fall short. And some of you’re like, I know you don’t preach much, but this is the most depressing start to a sermon ever. Yeah, I know we’ll get there. But here’s what we see when we look at verse 23 when we look closely. You see, third grade was the grade so nice. I took it twice. And here’s what I learned. I learned there’s a difference between a comma and a period. We, we are taught verse 23 as kids as a verse that contains a period, are we not? But look at it again for all have sin and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace.

If you follow along with something to write on, that’s a word to circle. It’s a powerful word. It is a word we’re gonna come back to for through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. It might look like the end today. That moment that you’re facing, that moment that your loved one is walking through that thing that you’re dealing with, it might look like the end today, whatever it is that you’re going through. But God has a plan to insert a comma into your story. And Exodus 20 was not the end. The story did not end with the disobedience of the Israelites. The story doesn’t end with Moses coming down, seeing their disobedience in shattering the stone tablets where sin wanted to place a period, God placed a comma. That story continues in Exodus 34. But we have to back up to verse one because now we understand the context and we understand the moment.

That leads us right here to verse one. Let’s look at it together. The Lord said to Moses, chisel out to stone tablets like the first ones. And I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. How cool is that? This, this is just a conversation between a parent and a child. This is a conversation I’ve had with my kids. It’s a conversation you’ve had with your kids to say, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that you’re going through that. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with that. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing that hurt. I’m sorry that the consequences of your actions have brought this about. I’m so sorry that I had to discipline you in this moment, but I still love you.

We’re gonna figure this thing out and just as we’ve done each week, we just kind of move to the next descriptive characteristic of God. And this morning, I think you probably already feel it kind of oozing off the pages, but it’s Exodus 34 verse seven, and it’s the descriptive statement that defines God as maintaining love to thousands, right? That, that listen to me, no matter what your what may be today, is it sin? Is it just drama? Is it stress? Is it worry? Is it sickness? Is it shame? Is it regret? No matter what it is this morning, God loves you with a second chance kind of love no matter what it is that you’re walking through, no matter what it is that you’re experiencing, God loves you so much that he desires that have put a comma in your story, and he’s gonna do it through the person of Jesus with a gift called grace. Grace not getting what you ultimately deserve. Grace is the unmerited, unending, unstoppable love of God extended to thousands, extended to you, extended to me, and is exponentially greater than every single thing we could possibly do. And this morning, across this room, there are no doubt many of you who are so grateful for God’s grace and God’s love in your life, amen.

No doubt many of you who would say, I see the gift. I see what Jesus did for me. I see what God brought about. I see his grace, and I’m so thankful for it. But no doubt, doubt is this room is full. There are some in here today who would say, man, I, I can see how the Israelites struggled, right? I, I wanna believe this. I wanna believe that God loves me, but Bronson, have you seen my life? Bronson, have you just turned on the news loving God and I don’t know, extending love to thousands maybe, but it doesn’t feel like he’s extended love to me.

And this morning, here’s what I want to do with this series. I want to be able to take this characteristic, this description of who God is. And I want to give you definitive proof that it’s true. So that if it’s your life and you would say, I just don’t believe that God could be a loving God. I wanna give you definitive proof today that shows you that. And this morning, if you know someone, you have someone in your life who says, nah, he’s not a loving God, that you would be able to say, let me show you. I can show it to you right here. Definitive proof. So if you have a copy of God’s word, we’re gonna jump into it this morning, two Corinthians five, verse 14. As we try to unpack this truth, how do we know God loves us? Second Corinthians five, verse 14 says, it’s the love of Christ that controls us.

Having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died. And he died for all so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf. It’s, it’s simple. I know it’s familiar. I know Christ loves me so much that he died for me. We learned that truth at a early age. But can I just tell you the longer and longer I pastor, right? Prior to coming here, I pastored a church that turned 145 years old while, while I was the pastor. Like I, I’ve been in situations around mature believers, people who’ve been in church their whole life. Can I just say like this piece that I begin to fear sometimes as we look at this truth, is that I fear sometimes we’re educated beyond our obedience.

God loves me so much, he sent Jesus to die for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that. But can I just tell you this morning, there’s a massive difference between knowing that Christ died for you and believing with every fiber of your being and the depths of your soul, that God loves you so much, he sent Jesus to die for you. Right? That’s the very, the, the, the very reality we see of, of, of the, uh, of the nation of Israel. That there is a huge, huge difference. That’s the constant and central theme for them. They know the faithfulness of God. They’ve seen the faithfulness of God. They’re rescued by the faithfulness of God. They forget the faithfulness of God, that God loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for you. Do you believe that today? But better? Better yet, maybe that’s the wrong way to ask it.

Maybe I should say, have you allowed that very truth to change your life? Because I’ll say this, when you encounter the love of God and the grace of God, every single thing is adjusted in your life because of it. And we go on here, verse five, or Romans chapter five confirms that for while we were still helpless at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. One would hardly die for a righteous man. We translate that to be a, an ordinary man, though perhaps for the good man. Literally that word means a distinguished benefactor, like a famous person, someone would dare to die. I notice this, but God demonstrates his own love toward us. And that while we were yet sinners, while our life was still a mess, while you had nothing in order, while you were still living in direct disobedience to all the ways of God, scripture says Christ died for you. What kind of love is that? That’s a pretty loving God. Because the reality is probably outside of a family member, probably outside of your spouse, maybe a parent who’s still living. It would be really hard for you to find someone today who says, I’ll die for you, but Jesus did. What kind of love is that?

Second Corinthians continues, therefore verse 16, from now on, we recognize no one according to the flesh, even though we’ve known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him in this way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come. God says, Hey, no matter the things you’ve done in your life, regardless of your failures, regardless of your defeats, regardless of those moments in your past that nobody knows about, those skeletons in your closet that nobody’s aware of, and you just spend countless hours praying that nobody ever finds out about that past, he says, no, all those things are gone. They’ve all passed away, right? Because he’s a God who loves you. And he says, Hey, I’m so sorry you’re walking through that. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing that pain.

I’m so sorry you’re experiencing that hurt. I’m so sorry that the consequences of your actions brought about this situation. I’m so sorry for the moments I’ve had to discipline you, but I still love you, man. What a freeing truth. What a freeing reality for us to live in. But verse 17, notice this. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creature. Pay attention to this because God comes and he says, Hey, I’m not just gonna take your mess and put a bandaid on it. I’m just not gonna take your mess and kind of move it to the side. Like when my wife tells our daughters, you better clean your room. And they slide all the junk to the corner.

Look at this mom. No. He says, I don’t just take the junk that’s in your life and slide it out of you. No, because God loves you so much. He takes all the junk and the mess in your life and he takes it completely away and he gives you brand new life. And you see what I think begins to happen as the enemy says, that can’t be true. Come on man. God’s gonna forget about that thing you did. Stop it. There is no way he’s gonna forget about that thing in your past. There’s no way he’s gonna be able to move on from that thing that you did. You and I both know it. I’ll tell you, this past week I saw more snow than I have in my whole life combined <laugh>.

And on Thursday morning, I get a call from Curtis. He says, I think there’s a lull in the storm. We should go shovel the church. It didn’t sound like a good idea. I would be proven right. Very soon, Curtis and I came up and we started moving snow. Really nowhere. After about two and a half hours, I pulled up to him, I said, this is the dumbest idea you’ve ever had. Get in the truck. We’re going home, man, <laugh>. And we went home and we came back on Friday, seven hours on Friday, three hours yesterday. And finally we saw a sidewalk. Praise God. Why? What changed? The sun came out. You see, we don’t, I’m learning. We don’t tell other people about the sun in Colorado because we don’t wanna move in here, right? We’re like, all it does is snow, man, don’t come here. Don’t move here. We’re full.

But you see the enemy comes up behind us, doesn’t he? Sometimes. And if you’ve looked at the forecast, you know change is coming. It’s gonna be 60 on Tuesday, but the enemy whispers in our ear. He says, it’s snow everywhere, feet of snow. It’s never gonna end. You’re never getting out. You’re never gonna find the sidewalk. But the love of God and the grace of God comes and says, don’t buy the lie. It’s gonna be sunny tomorrow. God’s got this ’cause He loves you so much. He’s not just slid that junk out of the way. He’s replaced it with a completely new life. Because listen to this, there is nothing you can do or have done that causes God not to love you. He is a loving God. That’s who he is. Now look at verse 18. It says, all these things are from God.

I think this is important. We probably just kind of miss over it. But from the very beginning, before time through the Old Testament all the way to today, it’s all from God. It’s all about God. He’s always been, always is, always will be. He has never changed. It’s always been his story, not our story. And his infinite wisdom and knowledge. He knew that we wouldn’t be able to save ourselves. And he began to put together a restoration plan. God was the one doing it. It’s all from God. He is the one putting it together. But notice he’s not just doing it arbitrarily. He could have, he could have said new life. There you go. That’s forgiven. Boom, there. There you go. He could have, but he didn’t do it arbitrarily. Notice this. He’s doing it through the person of Jesus who reconciled us to himself through Christ.

That word reconciliation is the Greek word Ka lasso. It means changing our status from one of condemnation to one of justification that God loved us so much, that because of God’s love for you, because of God’s grace for you, there has been a gift that has extended, that changes your trajectory from eternity and death to eternity in life. That this gift called grace, the grace of God restores us to favor with God because God loved us so much. He didn’t want it any other way. That’s a pretty incredible love. And if you don’t believe that today, verse 19 is gonna give you your definitive proof. Okay, here it is. Let’s all follow along together. How do I know God loves me? Verse 19 says, namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world. So he is changing your status, right? He’s showing you his love.

He’s making you new, bringing you back to Him self. Now if you get nothing, here it is this Exodus 34 verse seven says, he is a loving God. That’s a descriptive characteristic of the very person of God. How do I know that’s true? Well, let’s look at verse 19 because it lays out who God is. Is he condemning God? Is he a judging God? Is he sitting on high waiting to drop the hammer on you or is he loving? Verse 19 answers that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. What’s that word? Not counting their trespasses against them. And he’s committed to us the word of reconciliation. Here’s what that says, that if you know Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, if you’ve received the gift of God’s love through his son Jesus, through his gift called grace, then praise the Lord.

I hope today you are actively living that out for the people around you to see. But this morning, if you do not know the love of God, if you have never entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, if you’ve never experienced God’s grace, if you’ve never experienced God’s love, right now, what scripture says is that God is in the world not counting your sins against you. Instead, he is in the world aggressively pursuing you because he loves you so much and he wants to be restored into relationship with you. That’s a pretty incredible love, isn’t it? And if this morning there is a sense of brokenness in your life, if there’s a sense of fallenness in your life, if there’s a sense that a lot of things have gone wrong in my life, can I just tell you that’s wonderful news? Because there is a gift called grace, and it’s available to you from a God who loves you so much that he wants to be reconnected with you.

And the devil tries to convince us, Hey, God, is this, this, this thing that sits on high. And he keeps this list and he just writes ’em down waiting for the day that he just gets to pin us down for every single thing that we’ve done wrong in our life. But that’s not what scripture says. Scripture says, no, that’s not where he is. He’s in the world through the person of Jesus working to be put back together with you. Think about that. God wants to be put back together with you today. That’s really saying something because there are people in this world who don’t ever want to be put back together with you, but not God. And he didn’t do anything wrong. We did. But he stepped in to do the reconciling because he knew we couldn’t. And he loved us so much, his grace, his gift.

And I think sometimes we hear that, especially maybe in a group like this and there would be a tendency from some of you to say, but I don’t, I’ve never really done that much wrong, right? Like we, we just recently changed the way we counsel for baptism. And so one of our kids pastors met with a little boy last week and he asked the little boy, he said, uh, hey, have you ever sinned? And the kid said, um, maybe once. And he said, Bronson, what would you have done in that moment? And I said, I’d have told him. Well, that’s a lie. Now you’ve sinned twice. There you go.

But you see for some of us, can I just say, I say this all the time, praise the Lord for a boring testimony. Praise God for that. You’re like, Hey, my testimony is raised in church, grew up in church, came to know the Lord. My parents took us to church. I’ve been in church my whole life. Praise the Lord for that. Like sometimes, sometimes we should put boring testimonies on stage. And I know we don’t tend to make those videos, but if your testimony is, Hey, I’ve never really done that much wrong. Been in church my whole life, can I just tell you, you still need the grace of God? And if today you’re somewhere in the middle, you would say, I’ve struggled with character and integrity, you still need the grace of God. And if today you would say, I’m, I’m all the way on the spectrum.

Drugs, alcohol, abuse, neglect, you name it, you still need the grace of God. And the fact of the matter is God loves you so much that he has insulted that the enemy could convince you that there’s something in your life that is greater than God’s love for you. And our story wraps here in verse 20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God, were making an appeal through us. So we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Why? Because he loved you so much that he made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. Someone heard I was preaching today and they said, ah, I’m just kidding.

They said, how many football stories are you gonna tell? Know your lane man. That’s what I told them. I love watching the NFL combine. Yes, it’s college students and T-shirts and shorts running around. But I just love it. It’s two weeks ago, had it on in my office all day, every day. Love it. And you get to see bits and pieces ’cause you just watched the news. So someone bench presses 2 25 a lot, they’re like, oh, Xavier worthy, uh, broke the 40 time that made the news. But there’s actually a measurement at the combine that doesn’t really make the news, but it’s really key for scouts because it judges a sheer athletic explosion. It’s called the standing broad jump. And the way that works is you stand completely still, you don’t get a running start, you don’t get a step, nothing. And you just have to load everything that is in you and you have to explode out and jump forward. I remember the day I made it eight feet, me and David headed to the NFL baby. Here we go.

Until I realized the record’s nearly 13 feet. So close <laugh>, like, think about that. If I was like three inches taller, could jump four inches further, I wouldn’t even be here. I’d just be famous somewhere. But can I just tell you this? You see, our sin places this gap between us and God, and it creates this distance. And it’s that distance that causes us to think God doesn’t love us. You say He’s a loving God, but I don’t feel him near me. I don’t feel him around me. It’s the sin and the disobedience in our life that says, man, he’s so far away. And sometimes what happens is we hear a story like today and we say, man, I wanna believe you. I wanna believe you that he loves me and he wants to be put back together with me. But there have been times in my life where I’ve been so good. There have been times in my life where I have, where I have done everything right. I have been nice, I have held the door, I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, and I’m just locked in and I’m working so hard and I look up and it feels like I’m only halfway there.

Bronson, I want to believe you that God loves me so much. He wants to be put back together with me. I just don’t feel like I can do it. God, I just tell you this morning, you’re absolutely right. You cannot do it. And the enemy would bring you to a fork in the road and he would say, hear that. Just give up this. God said, you can’t do it. Just give up. And I would say, hear that and just give in. Give in to the grace of God who loves you so much that he made Jesus understand this truth. Grace is a gift. It’s not about you working harder. Grace equals God at work. And he loves you so much. He made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on your behalf so that you might be cleaned up a little so that you might become a nice person so that you might become a decent human being.

No, what does he say? So that you might become the very righteousness of God? What kind of love is that? And today, it’s a gift. It’s from God and it’s available to you. And I would say if you’ve never received that gift, and in just a minute I’m gonna pray. And if today you would say, man, I just feel like, yep, 13 feet can’t jump. It hasn’t stopped me from trying though. Then I would love for you to go to Trailhead. Someone would love to pray with you and talk you through that. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Then as I pray, maybe you just pay attention to the words. I’m praying as you’re saying, man, I just feel like it’s not that I, I don’t see it, but I’m just not there yet. But what would it take today? Not for you to know that God loves you, but for you to believe with the very depths of your soul to be changed by it. Would you bow your heads? Would you pray with me? Father, thank you for loving us. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for redeeming us. Thank you for restoring us. God, I pray for three groups in this room this morning. I pray for those who know you, who love you, who have seen the gift, who’ve been rescued by your grace. And who would say, praise God. Lord, would you give them the courage? Would you give them the strength to carry out that love to those around them in this broken lost community?

God, I pray for the one who’s somewhere in the middle who today would say it’s just been a season. It’s not that I’ve never known the love of God. It’s just I haven’t known it in a long time and and I don’t need it for the first time. I just need it for the first time in a long time. God, would you meet them right there? Would you come to them right now, father, for the individual in this room who would say, I’ve never experienced it. There is no way God loves me. No way judgmental God. Maybe not a loving God, but just the truth of who you are. Just come right into their heart, but just come right into their soul. God, would you do a mighty work that only you can do? Will we not just walk out of here head into a another week, but will we be changed by the very truth of who you are? Father, we love you. Thank you. It’s in the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Amen.