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GOD'S GRACE CAN TURN THE LOST INTO THE FOUND

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

1 OCTOBER 1995

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 113:1-9
Amos 8:1-14

God's grace is all around us.

It surrounds both righteous and unrighteous people, and even those who are considered to be evil.

The difference is that the righteous are living in a state of grace, while the unrighteous and evil people have still refused to accept God's grace.

The truly righteous person of today was most likely formerly unrighteous, but by the grace of God their sins were covered and they were accepted as a child of the King.

Why doesn't this happen to everyone?

Because, even though this gift of salvation is offered to everyone, most people refuse to accept it.

There is no such thing as cheap grace.

Our acceptance comes in the form of our true belief coupled with the desire to obey God and go forth and sin no more.

Many people mistakenly think that this is a New Testament concept, but it is much older.

God sent the prophet Amos to the unrighteous people of Israel with a message of salvation by grace or one of destruction, if they refused to accept God's call to them.

Let's take a look at Amos 8:1-14 and see how they respond.

1. Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit.

2. And He said, "What do you see, Amos?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the Lord said to me, "The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.

This is the ripe fruit of the end of the season.

It has been allowed to mature on the tree or vine.

Now it will only last for a short time before it spoils.

The people of Israel are like this fruit. They must preserve themselves with God, or they will rot.

But the people have not responded, and God's patience has run out.

He doesn't want them to rot away in their sins.

He's trying to bring them back, but they won't listen to either His call of peace or to His threat of destruction.

3. "The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day," declares the Lord God. "Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence."

And don't forget that the Israelites were the people of God, or at least they were supposed to be, as the Christians are also to be today.

Thus, this message is meant just as much for the Church today as it was for the erring Israelites of that time and even to this very day.

4. Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land,

5. saying,

"When will the new moon be over,

So that we may sell grain,

And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,

To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,

And to cheat with dishonest scales,

6. So as to buy the helpless for money

And the needy for a pair of sandals,

And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?"

They don't care about God or anyone else.

Their lives are wholly bent on dishonest gain.

They think they are above the need of God's grace, because they incorrectly believe that they are in control.

They are Israelites in name only, for their hearts have turned away from God, as have the hearts of most people who call themselves Christians, today.

Perhaps they are saying, “When will this preacher stop talking so we can leave and do our thing.”

7. The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob,

"Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds.

8. "Because of this will not the land quake

And everyone who dwells in it mourn?

Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile,

And it will be tossed about,

And subside like the Nile of Egypt.

This is an interesting analogy: even as the floodwaters bring destruction, the lower Nile valley would not produce any crops if it were not for the annual flooding.

It is God's grace turning that which is lost in the flood into the found of an abundant harvest.

If we turn away from God, we may well find ourselves being swept away in the floodwaters of His wrath.

But if we turn ourselves wholeheartedly towards God, we need not fear the floods, but will in the end find an abundant harvest.

The choice is ours, as it was the Israelites’.

9. "And it will come about in that day," declares the Lord God,

"That I shall make the sun go down at noon

And make the earth dark in broad daylight.

10. "Then I shall turn your festivals into mourning

And all your songs into lamentation;

And I will bring sackcloth on everyone's loins

And baldness on every head.

And I will make it like a time of mourning for an only son,

And the end of it will be like a bitter day.

God really isn't taking vengeance on them.

All He is doing is telling them that they will suffer the same evil that they inflict upon others.

In essence, they are bringing the evil upon their own heads.

This is something we should all remember when we get angry and frustrated with others; they'll get their comeuppance.

11. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord God,

"When I will send a famine on the land,

Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,

But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.

12. "And people will stagger from sea to sea,

And from the north even to the east;

They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord,

But they will not find it.

To the north and the east are where the Israelites will go into captivity.

All the time we hear people say, "I don't need to go to church in order to believe."

That's true, but if their belief is not reflected in their lives, then what they say is probably not true.

They say they know the Bible, but they really don't.

Even most churchgoers don't read their Bibles.

They have ample opportunity to hear the word of God, but fail to receive it.

They don't even know whether a book is from the Old Testament or from the New Testament.

What God is telling these Israelites, and us today, is that some day they will realize their mistakes, but then it will be too late, for today is the day of salvation.

13. "In that day the beautiful virgins

And the young men will faint from thirst.

That is, thirst for the word of God.

14. "As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria,

Who say, 'As your god lives, O Dan,'

And, 'As the way of Beersheba lives,'

They will fall and not rise again."

Even after these warnings, even after the offer of God's grace and forgiveness, they still seek their false Gods.

God doesn't hate these people; He really loves them, for if He didn't, then why would He have sent Amos?

And why am I up here delivering this message?

It's because there are those within earshot who need to hear this message and change their ways and receive God's grace.

Our hearts need to become alive in the Lord, and our spirits to resound with the joy of knowing that we are in the presence of the Lord our God, just as the psalmist of Psalm 113 rejoices.

1. Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord.

Praise the name of the Lord.

2. Blessed be the name of the Lord

From this time forth and forever.

3. From the rising of the sun to its setting

The name of the Lord is to be praised.

4. The Lord is high above all nations;

His glory is above the heavens.

Anyone who is focused upon the Lord knows this, and their whole being rejoices with God’s wonders that are so easily seen around us.

5. Who is like the Lord our God,

Who is enthroned on high,

6. Who humbles Himself to behold

The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

7. He raises the poor from the dust,

And lifts the needy from the ash heap,

8. To make them sit with princes,

With the princes of His people.

9. He makes the barren woman abide in the house

As a joyful mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

The Lord, by His grace, will indeed turn the lost into the found, if they are willing.

Are we among the truly willing?

I pray so!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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