Grace

God’s Grace- Ephesians 2:8-9

Theme: God’s Grace Rescues Us From Sin

Bible Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)- “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Introduction:

          “Help!”

          When you hear that, what do you think?

          Someone needs to be rescued.

          Can you think of a time when you needed to be rescued? (Discussion)  

          When you are in danger, you need someone to rescue you.

          You may say, “I’m not in danger.”

          Do you know that everyone is in danger? We are all in danger of dying and being punished for our sins in hell. But Someone has rescued us. Who? (Discussion)

          Jesus rescued us from our sin when He died on the cross and rose again. Why would He do that? Why did it matter to Him?

          Listen to this story about Ashley, and I think you will understand it better.

Phil and Ashley Story:

          “You’ve got to see it!” Ashley grabbed Mary Lou’s hand and dragged her to the backyard.

          A large green tent was set up under the oak tree.

          “This is where we’re sleeping tonight,” Ashley said.

          Mary Lou gasped. “You’re kidding! Mom, bring my backpack back here.”

          Mary Lou’s mom carried the backpack around the corner. Ashley’s mom carried her sleeping bag and pillow.

          Ashley held back the tent flap so Mary Lou could enter first.

          “Oh, this is just perfect, Ashley. Our own little hideout.”

          The moms peeked in. “You won’t be afraid to sleep out here?” Mary Lou’s mom asked.

          “I don’t think so.”

          “Don’t worry,” Ashley’s mom said. “They’ll be perfectly safe. We’ll leave our bedroom window open, so if they call for help, we’ll hear them.”

          “I’m not worried about that,” Mary Lou’s mom said. “I know Mary Lou will be safe here. Well, I’d better go so you girls can start having fun.”

          As soon as the moms left, the girls rolled out their sleeping bags and played with their LOL dolls for an hour.

          Dad poked his head through the tent flaps. “Anyone want to roast marshmallows?”

          “Yes!” they both squealed.

          In the back corner of the yard, Dad had a fire going in the fire pit.

          “Why don’t you girls look for some sticks to use?” Dad said.

          In the woods behind, the girls found two sticks each. “That way we can roast two at a time,” Ashley said.

          The fire was blazing when they returned.

          “You’ll have to wait until there are some nice red coals,” Dad said.

          “That’ll take forever,” Ashley complained.

          “I like mine burnt,” Mary Lou said.

          “Well, go ahead, then.”

          Each girl threaded two on each stick and held them over the fire.

          “Not so close,” Dad warned. “You girls are going to burn yourselves.”

          “We are not. We’re careful.” Ashley stepped back a little.

She had had enough fire safety instruction at school to know that fire was something to be taken seriously. She never played with matches. In fact, she was even a little afraid of blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. No, she was extra careful around fire.

          It was hard to be patient. Ashley stuck one stick too close to the flame, and before she knew it, the marshmallow had turned black.

          “I don’t like them this black. Do you want this one, Mary Lou?”

          “Sure.”

          Dad pulled it off and popped it into Mary Lou’s mouth. He slipped another one onto Ashley’s stick. “You need to be more patient and careful. I think I’ll go find some sticks of my own. Will you girls be all right for a few minutes?”

          “Of course, Daddy. We’ll be careful.”

          Ashley had one stick in each hand. She tried to turn them slowly. The one in her right hand was almost ready. Carefully, she turned it, forgetting to watch the one in her left hand.

          “Ashley, watch out!” Mary Lou screamed.

          The stick in Ashley’s left hand had burst into flames. Ashley yanked it off the fire. “You want these burnt ones?” Ashley asked as she waved the stick toward Mary Lou.

          “Maybe, but blow out the fire first.”

          The fire spread up the stick. Ashley didn’t know what to do. “I can’t. You blow it out.” She thrust the stick toward Mary Lou.

          Mary Lou stepped closer and blew hard. Nothing happened. Ashley’s hand was shaking as she moved the stick closer to Mary Lou.

          Suddenly the front of Mary Lou’s shirt caught on fire. The girls looked at each other in horror.

          “Daddy! Help!” Ashley screamed.

          Dad ran out of the woods. Mary Lou ran toward him. The flames spread until the whole front of Mary Lou’s shirt was on fire.

          “Stop, Mary Lou!” Ashley screamed. She had learned not to run if you were on fire. It only made things worse.

          “Drop to the ground,” Dad ordered.

          Mary Lou did.

          “Put your hands over your face.”

          Mary Lou did.

          “Roll in the grass.”

          By this time Dad had reached her. He rolled her in the damp grass until the flames were smothered. Mary Lou whimpered.

          “Ashley, run to the house and tell Mom to call 911. We need an ambulance here.”

          The ambulance arrived within five minutes along with Mary Lou’s parents. Mary Lou was rushed to the hospital.

          Ashley sat on the porch step watching them go. Mom sat beside her.

          “Poor Mary Lou,” Mom said. “Why don’t we pray right now that the Lord will be with her?”
          Ashley nodded and Mom prayed. “Thank You, Lord, that You are a God of miracles. We ask for a miracle right now for Mary Lou. Please help the burns not to be too serious. Please help the doctors know what to do. Help Mary Lou not to be in too much pain. And we ask for complete healing for her, if it be Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

          Tears trickled down Ashley’s cheeks. It was all her fault. Why had she poked that burning stick right toward her? She should have dropped it into the campfire. She knew better. It was all her fault! And Mary Lou’s mom had been so sure Mary Lou would be safe at their house.

          Mary Lou was in the hospital for a week. The burns were not too bad. They did not require skin grafting, but they were extremely painful.

          Since Ashley was too young to visit in the hospital, every day she sent up something with her mom—homemade cards, candy, flowers, balloons. In every card, Ashley wrote how sorry she was.

          On the day Mary Lou came home from the hospital, Mom asked Ashley if she wanted to visit Mary Lou. Ashley did, but she wondered if Mary Lou would ever want to see her again after what she had done to her.

          Mary Lou was sitting up in bed, her chest wrapped in white bandages. Flowers and balloons covered her dresser along with every card Ashley had made.

          “Ashley, I’m so glad you came.”

          “You are?” Ashley sat in the chair beside the bed.

          “Thanks so much for all the cards and candy and flowers and balloons. You really cheered me up. Look, I made something for you. Can you reach it there on the dresser?”

          Ashley picked up a homemade card that said, “To the best friend in the world. I love you, Ashley!” It was decorated with lollipops stapled like the spokes of a wheel.

          Ashley’s lower lip quivered as she stared at her. “How can you say that? It’s my fault you got burned. You should hate me.”

          “I could never hate you. You’re my best friend. Besides, it was an accident. Even when I was in such pain, I never blamed you.”

          “Thank you. But I sure don’t deserve it.”

          “Whether you deserve it or not, I love you,” Mary Lou grinned.

          And Ashley grinned back.

Application:

          How could Mary Lou love Ashley when Ashley had done something so awful to her?

          This story reminds me of God’s love for me. Whether I deserve it or not, God loves me.  Because I have sinned and done awful, naughty things, I don’t deserve for God to love me. But because of the grace of God, He loves me anyway.

          Grace means not getting the punishment I deserve, but instead, being forgiven and loved.

          How did Mary Lou show grace in this story? She forgave Ashley and still wanted to be her best friend, even though Ashley had caused the accident.

          How does God show grace to you? By not giving you the punishment you deserve.

          Because we’ve sinned, we have to pay the punishment for that sin. That punishment is death in hell.

          But God loved you so much, He didn’t want you to pay the price.

          Instead, God showed grace to us by sending His Son Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. We deserve to die. Instead, Jesus died for us. You need to believe Jesus died for you and rose again, and ask Him to come into your heart and forgive your sins.

          Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) tells us- “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

          Jesus wants to rescue you, but you need to ask Him to. Would you like to do it today?

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Beth Livingston

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