Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | September 13, 2014

September 13, 2014 “The Word of the Day”

 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Good Morning My Dear Friends in Christ!

   I like words. I enjoy learning new ones and expanding my vocabulary. My wife and I used to play a game on Sunday mornings that we called “The Word of the Day.” I would have her pick a page at random out of the dictionary by giving me first the page number, then the right or left column, and then another number between 1-25. I’d go to the chosen page and column, then count down the column to determine the word of the day. After the word was selected and its definition read, it was my task to work it into the sermon I was preaching that morning, no matter how mundane or obscure the word happened to be. Sometimes it would be a familiar word and it was easy for me to use it. Other times proved a bit more challenging. I remember on one occasion the word of the day was “Gandy Dancer.” For those of you unfamiliar with the word (as was I at the time), a gandy dancer is a slang term used to describe those that laid down railroad tracks and ties for a living. You can imagine that it was a bit of a challenge for me to work that into my message without defining the term for anyone in the congregation, but I did, for that was how we played the game.

   Some words heard in church are like that. They are words used almost exclusively in the Christian community. One such word is “sanctification.” According to Webster, sanctification is defined as “the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion.” In other words, it is becoming more and more Christ-like as we mature as Christians. It is an ongoing process in the life of a Christian, for in this life, we never attain a state of absolute perfection, but by the grace of God, we become more and more like Christ in thought, word, and deed as we are built up by the Word, by prayer, by submission, and by His grace.

Perhaps you are familiar with the name John Newton. He composed the most renown of all Christian hymns, “Amazing Grace” which basically tells the story of his own conversion. It was written of him,

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John Newton heard someone recite this text, “By the grace of God—I am what I am.” He remained silent a short time and then, as if speaking to himself, he said: “I am not what I ought to be—ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be—I abhor that which is evil, and I would cleave to that which is good. I am not what I hope to be—soon, soon I shall put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection! Though I am not what I ought to be, what I wish to be, and what I hopeto be—yet I can truly say, I am not what I once was—a slave to sin and Satan! I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge, “By the grace of God—I am what I am!”

In a paragraph, that’s the very definition of “sanctification.” It is what Paul was expressing in his letter to the new Christians of Corinth, who themselves were being sanctified. He used his own life as a living example of what sanctification looks like. Once a persecutor of the Lord he came to know, love, and worship, he rightly noted,”But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” Amazing transformation comes to those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. Amazing grace is discovered. Amazing sanctification becomes the new life journey of those who pitch their tent in his camp. You are invited, too. Let’s pray!

Most gracious Lord; Your amazing grace has made me who I am now. I am what I am because of You. I will be what I will become because of You. I will stand before you sanctified, forgiven, redeemed, all because of You. My song of endless praise will ring for all eternity in Your presence because of Your love. You are my Lord and my God, and I shall ever praise You. Amen!

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