I was thinking tonight about the service tomorrow, and I was praying that God would direct me with what He wanted me to do for the music time. In my time of meditation I thought back to what I have been reading recently in the book of Acts. I started thinking about Saul’s conversion and how God chose him and then used him as Paul. I thought about how amazing it was that God rescued Saul out of the middle of his sin and saved him by His grace. I also started thinking about the lyrics to a song that was on my heart. The lyrics read: I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wondered how He could love me, a sinner, condemned and unclean.
When I thought about these lyrics my mind was taken back to Saul, a man who really did stand in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. (Actually, Saul was knocked to the ground!) The point is, Saul was a man that really did stand in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth on his way to kill Christians in the city of Damascus. Jesus interrupted Saul’s journey and poured His grace into a life that was consumed with hatred. Saul was physically blinded by the encounter with Jesus but for the first time in his life the eyes of his heart were opened to the truth. We see in Scripture that Saul went from being a Christ hating murderer to a chosen vessel of God’s grace to spread the gospel all over the world.
Again the lyrics of the hymn came to my mind and I thought about what Paul might think of those lyrics. I think Paul would have loved it! In fact, I am sure Paul had a version of his own. Paul’s account of his conversion in Acts 26:9 sounds a lot like this song. His comments in Ephesians 3:7-12 also indicate that He loved God’s grace because he knew he was undeserving of it. Paul probably sang a song much like this one in his own quiet times when he thought back to his conversion. I bet his chorus was a lot like ours today: How Marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How Marvelous! How Wonderful is my Saviors love for me!
In my time of thinking, I also thought about John Newton who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace. John was a case too where God rescued him from a life of hatred. John captained a slave ship, and once John encountered God's grace, God changed his life forever. His lyrics have been remembered in churches all over the planet in the hymn about God's grace. God shows us that He can take the biggest sinners and make them the most influential people of their day for the sake of the good news of His grace.
However, God also showed me that I should be just as amazed and overjoyed at His grace in my own life. My sin in God’s eyes was and is just as bad as the sins of Saul. Jesus says in Luke 7:47 that a person who is forgiven much will love much and a person who is forgiven little will love little. I have been convicted tonight that I might not love and respond in right worship like Paul and John Newton would, because I in some ways have forgotten that I have been forgiven of much myself. I was a murderer, rapist, thief, and blasphemer at heart, and like the song says: He took my sins and my sorrows and He made them His very own, He bore my burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone. Jesus did that out of obedience to His Father for the sake of His glory, but He also did it because He loved and desired to rescue me.
If you are a follower of Jesus, join me tonight in two things:
First, join me in remembering our own sin and God’s great grace all the while meditating on this truth until our souls can sing out How Marvelous! How Wonderful!
Secondly, join me in praying for the salvation of Penn Jillette. Penn is a man known for his devout dedication to atheism. When I was thinking about Saul earlier I tried to think of someone that could be a modern day Saul…someone who hated Christianity and was very influential. After some focused thinking, I thought of Penn. I believe that if God saved Penn, the Holy Spirit through Penn could affect our modern world much like Paul did his. The results would be devastating for the enemy. Join me in praying for this man.
When with the ransomed in glory, His face I at last shall see.
Twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me.
-“I Stand Amazed” Charles Hutchinson 1856-1932