God’s Grace Gives Hope

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Illustration: Good to see all of you. Its good to see. Many of you have probably been to the eye doctor on at least one occasion. When they come to the conclusion that you may need glasses they set you on a chair and pull this mechanical mask vision tester thing over your face. You rest your chin and forehead into it and they show you a line of lettering that at first is very fuzzy. They proceed to show you this lettering through a series of lenses. They ask you, “Now can you see the letters better through lense 1, or lense 2… 1, or 2?” Say I answer that question as number 2. They then show me the lettering through another set of lenses and ask you to, “Pick between 2 or 3… 2 or 3?” They go on with this until they have the exact right prescription for you. The point of all this to see more clearly the lettering on the wall in front of you. I know that all of you may have not had the experience of putting on a new pair of glasses to correct your physical sight, but...
Transition: There are a number of different lenses that we can see God’s grace through that can correct our spiritual. We may look at God’s grace through the lens of prosperity, but God does not promise us all that we want. Maybe we are peering through the false lenses of popularity or self gratification. God’s grace is not a provision for the flesh or a magic trick to get something. Now maybe these incorrect lenses work for a time. They may give us satisfaction for a moment, but in the end they leave your vision, your peace, your hope all sore and irritated. I want us all to see that...
PROPOSITION: Observing God’s grace through correct lenses reveals hope.
INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE: What are the correct lenses that show me hope?
TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE: I want to look at God’s grace through 3 sets of lenses, the trifocals of seeing hope if you will. I truly believe that focusing on God’s grace through these lenses will remind us of the hope we have in Him. Please if you would to Micah chapter 7, the very end of the book. We will start in verse 18 and go through verse 20.
Micah 7:18–20 ESV
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
The first lense I believe this passage is pointing to is…
1. The distance lens of God’s uniqueness.
Look at this as the top lense in trifocals, the long distance lens. The big picture of who God is, His uniqueness. At the beginning of verse 18 it reads, “Who is a God like you,” I think that we could all dwell on that phrase our whole lives and not fully grasp how holy, how set apart God is. When we look at God’s grace through the lens of his uniqueness it should reveal hope to us.
Throughout the book of Micah we see God pronouncing wrath and discipline that will be poured out on Israel and for their sins. Israel was guilty of a whole slew of things, some we would deem as awful sins like stealing, teaching and prophesying falsely, adultery. It is interesting that in the midst of all these awful sins things disrespecting family members is listed. God hates all sin, even those that we would say, “Aren’t a big deal.” He punishes all sin that which he hates. God is unique in the way he views sin. All sin is contrary to God’s nature and deserving of punishment. Israel was about to be carted off to serve the Babylonians. We are just as deserving of awful punishment just as Israel was. God is unique in the just way that He judges sin. We overlook the wrongs of others often.
Illustration: It is easy to ignore the wrongdoing of others. We need to pray for wisdom in challenging others to seek and walk with the Lord.
We should do our best to be gracious to those around us in the way that we point out wrong. Ultimately it is not sinning against other people that condemns us. Our sin is chiefly against God. And we are deserving of punishment because of that.
Transition Illustration: I’m sure many of you have seen either the animated, or live action version of Beauty and the Beast. In this film there is a burly man named Gaston. He stood out among the crowd; he was unique. There is a song that is sung to him: “No one’s slick as Gaston. No one’s quick as Gaston.” Gaston could do many feats that no one around him is capable of or would even think of doing. He was different from others around him; He was unique. Gaston was unique in ways that weren’t important in the grand scheme of things or in bad ways. But God...
Transition: God is different from everyone around him, he is holy, perfect; He is unique. Micah recognizes that when we view God’s grace through the lens of God’s uniqueness, a few more characteristics of God can be visualized. At the beginning of verse 18 we have seen the big picture in the distance lenses of God’s uniqueness, now we will look at the intermediate lenses of God’s forgiveness.
2. The intermediate lens of God’s forgiveness.
There is an incredible forgiveness of our wrongdoing, of our sins. It is brought about by our confession and God’s character and His unique grace even though we are deserving of the worst of punishments. View God’s grace through the intermediate lens of forgiveness. It helps us have hope despite our flaws. It gave Israel hope even though they were going to be sold into slavery in a short amount of time. There are four pictures that Micah gives us to help us grasp the reality of God’s forgiveness.
The first picture is in verse 18 where it says that our unique God will, “pardon iniquities.” He pardons iniquity. This gives the picture of a courtroom where the judge pardons an offender. And not just for no reason either. He is not an unjust god who would let the guilty go unpunished. Christ shed his blood for the sins of the world. Every person ever. Never lose sight of the picture of grace that we see in the pardoning of our sins through Christ.
The second picture Micah gives comes right after the first. We see our unique, gracious God, “passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance.” He passes over transgression. This could very well be alluding to the passover sacrifices that Israel had to make. Where the lamb was punished instead of the Israelites who deserved it back in Exodus. The Israelites often needed that “passing over.” They were almost taken out if it weren't for Moses intercession at Mt. Sinai. How much we too deserve to be taken out for being the sinners we are.
There is a small break from these picture at the end of verse 18 where it describes a few of God’s promises. I want to focus at this time on the promise at the beginning of verse 19. “He will again have compassion on us.” No matter how many times we fall He will always have compassion! But that doesn’t mean that we should sin it up! Remember Romans tells us, “By no means!” Even when God shows us compassion there will still be consequences. Pastor Harves in Lagrange, Kelseys inlaw, said once, “Obedience is better than confession.” We see in Hebrews 12:6 and Proverbs 3:12 that, “the Lord disciplines those that He loves.” As believers we can expect to be disciplined by God when we fall short. I know that I would rather live with God’s grace in my vision, obeying the one who made me and saved me. I implore you to do the same. Obedience is better than confession.
The first picture was of the courtroom and God’s pardoning through Christ, the second was alluding to the passover and God making provision for His remnant, the people that made it through their enslavement. Now look right after the part on God’s compassion at the beginning of verse 19 for the third picture. It says, “He will tread our iniquities underfoot.” He will treat our sins as though they are not even there, just passing over them as the second picture implied as well. I picture a well worn trail that is engraved a foot down into the grass around it. That path is definitely treaded underfoot. Or a cow path on the side of a sand hill. What was once there, is there no longer. That ground is gone just like our sin has been completely forgiven.
The fourth picture is of God, “Casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Illustration: In the ocean there is a deep channel called the Mariana Trench. I thought of it when I was reading this part of verse 19. At the lowest point of the Mariana trench it is 7 miles deep. 7 miles! Light rarely penetrates past a tenth of a mile. You wouldn’t be able to see anything down there! Well, first of all you would be dead because of all the water pressure, but that’s besides the point. When God forgives our sins, they are gone. He can’t even see them anymore because they are covered by miles of sea. Or more accurately, they are covered by Christ’s blood He shed for us.
Transition: God pardons iniquities, passes over transgression, treads our iniquities underfoot, and casts our sins into the depths of the ocean. The lens of God’s forgiveness is beautiful to look through. His grace is so evident in every way and that should add to our hope! (pause)
How should we look at the world when we are looking through the lens of God’s forgiveness? When we see just how far away God has cast our sins we have a challenge to, with God’s help, forgive others in the same way. Not being vindictive or continuing to hold something against them.
We have seen God’s grace through the distance lens of God’s uniqueness and the intermediate lens of God’s forgiveness, but there is another lens in this passage that narrows down the focus to an even more specific part of God’s character. This is the...
3. The near sighted lens of God’s Steadfast Love.
This attribute is part of His being just like His forgiveness. We don’t have to expect anything less than God loving us to the largest extent. Let’s pick up again at the end of verse 18 and I want you to focus on the Love of God.
Micah 7:18–20 (ESV)
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
We see both at the end of verse 18 and half-way through verse 20, God’s steadfast love -- His lovingkindness. Some translations state the word here as mercy or grace. I’ve heard it said as “God’s loyal love.” And all of these are awesome descriptors of this characteristic of grace God shows for us. He shows us a unique love, one that forgives incredibly and fully! Looking through this lens of God’s love brings God’s grace into full focus. God would not be unique if he did not love us to the extent that He does. God would not be so extraordinarily forgiving if He did not love us like he does.
Illustration: If we think back to the song about Gaston, we can rewrite the words to fit who God is. “No one forgives like God does, steadfastly loves like God does!”
This is his joy! At the end of verse 18 it says that, “He delights in steadfast love.” God takes great joy in loving me; He takes great joy in loving you. This attribute of God is steadfast and eternal! We should have such hope in this!
Verse 20 reads once again…*
Micah 7:20 ESV
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
God was and is faithful to His chosen people. He continues to show love to His people. And do you know why!? Because it is His character, it is His uniqueness. I trust in my steadfastly loving God to bring me through any hardship!
It is true that I would not even know the meaning of love if it wasn’t for Christ. 1 John 3:16
1 John 3:16 ESV
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
We ought to do our best to have the same attitude as Christ. The same sacrificial love that God has shown all throughout history.
1 John 3:16 ESV
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
CONCLUSION: Look at God’s grace through the correct lenses. Don’t have blurry vision about your life and about your future. Have hope! Have hope that your unique, forgiving, loving God has got you through it all.
Illustration: I want you to imagine Micah sitting down on a rock in a meadow. He has known his whole life the meaning of his name: “Who is like Yahweh.” Did you catch that? Micah’s name means: “Who is like the Lord!” As Micah sits and reflects on God’s name several realizations come to him. This all-powerful, God of everything cares about Israel despite their [its] flaws. That surely gave him tremendous hope!
This God who never changes cares about us today!That gives me tremendous hope! Despite Israel’s flaws, God is forgiving! Despite my flaws, God is forgiving! God shows us his forgiveness because he delights in steadfast love! My God shows me his forgiveness and love every day! Recognize these and give thanks to God.
His loyal love is so much more than we could ever give out on our own. With His help we can remain gracious when accusations are thrown or we are hurt. Let God’s uniqueness, forgiveness and love motivate you to show steadfast love to those around you. When you wrong others ask for forgiveness. When others wrong you, delight in steadfast love, just as God does, and grant forgiveness. Both of these things are equally hard to do, but they get a lot easier when we have the right lenses on while viewing God’s grace that He has shown to us. My unique Holy God, forgives me because he loves me. That gives me Hope.
A final thought for us all today wraps us back to the start. I’m sure their are many of you that have had the experience of having glasses for the first time. All of a sudden you don’t have to squint at the whiteboard, or at what you are reading. The trees have gone from globs of green to masterpieces. You can now see the details like never before.
We live in a world that has backward lenses. A world that can flip right and wrong. We live in a world that at times has no lenses, they do what’s right in their own eyes. It is our mission from the Lord to show who God is to a world that has blurry vision.
And personally, has your vision of who God is and what He wants been smudged? Is it hard to see the road ahead because their is too much dust covering up where their should be hope on the horizon. Keep being reminded daily of who God is and what He has done for you. Observing God’s grace through the correct lenses reveals hope.
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