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Saved By Grace

If Not For God / Mike Zwick
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2022 8:30 am

Saved By Grace

If Not For God / Mike Zwick

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November 16, 2022 8:30 am

Today, Mike Zwick discusses the topic of grace and how we can apply it to our lives. He dives into Ephesians for a closer to look at this wonderful gift called Grace


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Welcome to If Not For God, stories of hopelessness that turn to hope. Here is your host, Mike Zwick. All right, If Not For God with Mike Zwick, I've got my good friend Justin Neup back here from Unshakeable Kingdom, and he's also got his show that he does called Blessing Boys, which has gotten hundreds of thousands. Are you over a million? Millions, yeah.

He's got millions of views now where he actually goes, he goes, well, tell us what you do, Justin. Yeah, so we just had the idea. I wanted to instill some work ethic in my kids, and I own a lawn care business, and so we spend one day a week where we go out and find somebody in need.

A yard that's severely overgrown that people can't take care of, whether that's an abandoned property or not, and we transform it. We post those videos before and after on YouTube, and it's really been encouraging for a lot of people to watch those transformations, so that's what we do. And that's been really popular. I mean, it's almost like people like to see something that was completely messed up, and then somehow it just got better, which leads us to our subject today, Grace.

That's right. Grace. Ephesians chapter 2, if you've got your Bibles, and I hope you do. Ephesians chapter 2, we're using the NASB, the 1995 version, and we're going to be looking at verses 8 through 10. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast, for we are his workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. And when I look at that, when I look at that little passage, it's a passage that many of us have heard, I'm reminded of how in my own life I needed grace myself.

Yeah. You know, I didn't even understand that I was lost. I didn't know that I was lost until a young lady, when I went to Appalachian State, started sharing Jesus with me, and one day I accepted him as my Lord and Savior. I committed my life to him, but it was really God's grace that he even used her to come and talk to me, and I believe that God knew that was going to happen before it ever happened. But it's not only then, there were many times afterwards where God gave me his grace as well. And one of the examples I can think of is that after I became a Christian, there were many times where I wasn't living my life the way that I should. Whether it was in business where I was kind of living in the gray area, not always doing, not always being completely honest. You know, I know car salesmen kind of have a bad name.

Well, there's a name for insurance salesman as well. So, you know, and it's kind of easy to get caught up in that gray area and say, well, you know, I know it's not technically right, but it's going to help me make some more money. There were some other times in my life where, you know, where I, you know, was not married and I was fornicating, I was having sex outside of marriage. There were times where I wasn't treating people the way that I should be treating them. And what I've learned through grace is that God didn't hit me on the head. He didn't punch me. He wasn't standing next to my shoulder saying, Mike, you're a bad guy.

You're not accepted by me. Yet I see what he was doing was that he was showing me, Mike, I want my best for you in your life. And what you're doing right now is not going to produce the fruit that you want to see. One of the times I was living in Savannah, Georgia, and I really wasn't living my life the right way. And I knew I wanted to make a change, but I couldn't do it on my own. And so I had bought my first Lexus and all of a sudden I was going down the street and I was driving and all of a sudden this was supernatural.

The car started going from one side of the ramp to the other, started banging into one side to the other. And then when I was done, I was I was left completely harmless. I was OK. But God had gotten my attention where he said, you don't need to be living your life this way. Can you tell us your story of grace, Justin? Oh, my goodness.

Absolutely. Kind of like yours. It was a life of living in rebellion towards God, even though I didn't know most of the things that that I was in rebellion for. I wouldn't say I had a great knowledge of what sin was, but my lifestyle was it was rebellious towards God.

What is his, you know, created order had, you know, determined my purpose would be and stuff like that. So I am I love talking about grace because I am one of the benefactors of God's grace. And, you know, when I read in the Bible, there's things that I do when I want to understand what grace is.

And one of the things you do is you just look up the word and find out where it is in the Bible and start reading the scriptures. Right. But it's really interesting because you said what you said was, you know, in Ephesians two, eight, it talks about, you know, grace, for it is by grace that we're saved. So grace in itself is a characteristic of the nature of God. So it's it's it's basically God God's grace is what what allows, you know, us to receive something that we don't deserve deserve. Right.

Right. So I would say in my own testimony and experience, it was pretty radical because I wasn't raised in a Christian setting. I wasn't raised in the church. So I came face to face with God's grace, if you will, and was changed in a moment. So the really cool thing about grace is there's that element of getting something, you know, in the New Testament, the word grace is in there about one hundred and thirty one times. And I'm sorry, in the Bible, it's in there about one hundred and thirty one times. One hundred and twenty four of those is in the New Testament, and two thirds of those are actually Paul preaching about this thing called grace.

Right. And so part of that is the experience of salvation, receiving salvation, something we didn't work for, that we didn't earn. But what I experienced and God had to kind of break it down for me later was something another side of grace that people don't talk about a lot. And that is the actual empowerment, the power and the influence God gives us to change.

And so from my own personal experience, I met face to face with a decision. So God's grace was both an invitation and a confrontation. You know, like you said, when you had that experience with a car and stuff like that, God extended his grace by saving your life. But what what did he do?

He also said, so now you've got to change. Yeah, it's the same thing Jesus did to people. He would heal them. People would encounter Jesus and then he would say, now go sin, no more or less, something worse come upon you. So grace for me was both something that was freely given to me that allowed me to experience true salvation, reconciliation to God. And it was also something that empowered me to begin to change. And and that's, you know, that's what I experienced.

I know I didn't go into a lot of detail about that, what that was. But briefly, I was living a complete sinful life. And I actually heard I wouldn't say it was it was an audible voice, but something that really penetrated my heart at that time. Something that said, Justin, a voice that said, Justin, if you continue to lead, continue to walk down this path that you're walking down, it will end in destruction.

And I had a decision to make. So if you've heard my testimony before, you know, I tracked down a pastor. I was like, listen, I'm hearing voices and this is what I'm hearing. And he said, Son, I think God is speaking to you. And that's when he led me led me to the Lord there. I repented that day and my life's been different ever since because of grace. Wow.

You know, we were talking about this a little bit. But, you know, Isaiah Chapter nine, now that we're getting towards the Christmas season, starting in verse seven, it says there will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. The Lord sends a message against Jacob and it falls on Israel and all the people know it. That is Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria asserting in pride and an arrogance of heart. The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones.

The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars. Therefore, the Lord raises against them adversaries from resin and spurs their enemies on the Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west, and they devour Israel with gaping jaws. In spite of all of this, his anger does not turn away, and here it is, and his hand is still stretched out. So one of the things as what I was thinking through this before we were going to talk about this is that we think about, you know, we hear all these times in the Old Testament where God seems to be angry with Israel. We look at all of these times in the New Testament where people aren't living their lives the right way or people are doing something wrong, but Jesus continually says, look, I'm here to help you. Peter actually, when Jesus first met Peter and Jesus did the miracle where he said, put your net on the other side, and he caught all these fish. Do you remember what Peter said to Jesus? He said, get away from me because I'm a sinful man.

You know, and Robbie and I have talked about this many, many times on the show, where two men went up to the church one Sunday, and I'm putting this in 2020, 2022 words, but they went up to the church one Sunday. And one of the guys, he was a tax collector. He wasn't a good guy, whatever, and he was sitting in the back of the church. And the other guy who was, he thought he was a pretty good person, he was sitting there and he said, Lord, I thank you that I'm not like this other guy. He said, I give 10% of my money. I do everything I'm supposed to do. I don't commit adultery. I'm a pretty good guy. And the other guy who's the tax collector is sitting in the back and he's beating on his chest and he said, God have mercy on me, a sinner. And Jesus said, the second guy, he's the one who went away justified, not the first.

And I guess, you know, when I think about grace, the first thing that we have to realize is that we are a sinner. But you said you dealt with some history. Was it alcoholism in your family? Yeah. Oh yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. We had a huge pass of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, stuff like that. My biological father that I was born to, you know, he was into drugs and, you know, had some encounters with, you know, not being nice to women and stuff like that. So he wasn't really involved in my life and even my stepdad who has now passed away from alcoholism. So alcohol is a really, really touchy, you know, subject for us and our family.

And, you know, we don't, we don't really want anything to do with it because of the ravage that it has had on our family. So following suit, I remember at a young age, I remember watching and observing my parents because they were young. They were in their 20s. When I was growing up, I remember watching them party and stuff like that. And this is nothing against them or the example they, you know, they said they just did what they knew how to do, right? But I used to watch my dad party with my uncles. And I remember looking at him and saying, man, I can't wait to do that. Like, they look like they're having so much fun, right? Right.

Not a care in the world. And I'm, you know, eight, nine, 10 years old saying, I can't wait to do that with my friends. So lo and behold, it didn't take long within three years at the age of 13, I was partying on the weekends, you know, drinking and, and falling into that trap of alcoholism. And that continued on through high school and my high school years just got worse. I mean, I was drinking before school. I got brought in to the principal's office one day because I got in a fight.

Listen to this. I got a, I got, we were allowed to leave school. I can't believe I'm saying this on the air, but we were allowed to leave school to go to lunch as seniors.

Well, when I was, I was, we were drinking on our lunch, our lunch breaks. And so I was driving back to the school and I cut somebody off and he followed me to the school. And when I got out of the car, he came and he swung at me.

This was an adult man. And we got in a fight. So I got, I got in a fight in our parking lot of our high school for cutting this guy off, got brought into the principal's office.

The police were there, everything. They had to give me a breathalyzer and stuff like that. So that's the kind of stuff I was experiencing in high school.

Go on to college, the same thing. It just began to get progressively worse. But if you look at my, my background and my family history, it was the same thing.

It was the same thing with my dad and his dad and, and you can go all the way back. And this stuff was just ravaging us. But what's beautiful is by the grace of God, that moment that I heard that voice speak to me, it was like everything began to change. And like I said before, it wasn't just, uh, you know, the call to salvation, but I think even built in that word of salvation is deliverance and freedom from the captivity of sin.

And I began to experience that for the first time in my life. So many people try to find freedom from these things, freedom from addiction, freedom from whatever it is, depression, anything that you're struggling with outside of Jesus. And it's only going to get you so far. That's why so many people in addiction recovery relapse.

But what I had encountered is I tried, even after I was saved, I tried for a couple of years to do it on my own. I was like, I'm going to go back to, uh, instead of going to, to, to, to beer and liquor, I'm going to drink wine, right? Because there's wine in the Bible. And so that's great for an alcoholic, you know, and then I found myself drinking a bottle or two of wine. And I'm like, well, this doesn't work.

It just looks better to the people outside. Right. And so I finally had to get to the point, this is like three years after I was born again, I didn't want to do this. You know, that's the difference between someone who's living in sin and they want to, they're practicing it.

Practice means you're getting good at it. And someone that's in captivity to it and they just can't get free of that thing, but they hate that they do it. That's where I was. And then there was a time where I was finally like, Lord, you've got to take this. I can't do this anymore.

I can't do this on my own. And that's where I was, I stopped and I was delivered of alcoholism and that was in 2012. January was the last time alcohol touched my lips. And so this past January, I celebrated 10 years without touching alcohol. And now at this point, I mean, you can put it all around me, no temptation, because just like the Bible says, do not be drunk on wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.

He's so much better. Yes, yes. And the, uh, and so what I, what I heard you say is at the end, you tried to do it on your own and you couldn't. But you asked the Lord to help, Lord, help me to be delivered from this. And he did it for you. Something else that we had talked about as well, you also, I know I said this, I had to struggle with women when I was younger. Did you struggle with that too?

Absolutely. There's one thing that I always share with my wife because I love my wife and it's beautiful. Man, marriage is beautiful in Christ.

Not that it doesn't, every marriage doesn't come with difficulties, but marriage to me is so different than what I experienced growing up and what I've experienced outside of Christ. Because before Christ, I was a womanizer and I was never, this is the major difference I've noticed with, with, with my relationship with women before and after Christ is before Christ, it was like, it was never enough. It was like, that was part of my addiction was being manifested in women. It was like, I always had to be with different women and stuff like that. It was like this high or whatever, but I noticed after I gave my life to Jesus, he did something in me. And early on in our relationship, I don't have time to share our whole testimony, but early on in our relationship, in our marriage, my marriage with my wife. It was extremely rocky for the first three years and she wanted to leave. Normally before Jesus, I had no commitment to women. I would have said, then go, go, I'll find somebody else. Right.

Yeah. But Jesus had done something different in me and I knew this was supernatural because I didn't even have time to really dig in and study the Bible yet. I was still just a baby in Christ.

I didn't know what he said about marriage and all that stuff, but I knew one thing that he was committed to me and therefore I was going to be committed to people as well. And so my wife would, and she'll tell you this, she literally wanted to try and provoke me to do something that would cause me to either ask for a divorce or leave, but I never would. And she would get so angry and it was like something would come over me and I dealt with anger issues.

I had to have a lady come to my house and counsel me and talk to me as a kid, major anger issues. But something would come over me in those moments and I can't account for anything other than the grace of God would come over me through the power of the Holy Spirit. So I would look her in the eyes and I would say, I'm not going anywhere.

I'm not going anywhere. So it was a very different experience. I'm not saying there's, you'll experience that in every aspect of your life right in the beginning, but for those few things, there was something supernatural taking place. And again, I can only attribute that to the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen to that. I, you know, another story that I can think about was November 1st of 2011. I was driving down the road in German to North Carolina and there's some extreme curves if you've ever been there and it was pitch black. There were no lights out or anything like that. I was listening to Charles Stanley on the Truth Network right here and all of a sudden Charles Stanley went off the radio and it started to play this weird music. And I heard a voice in my ear and it said, was it audible? Was it not? I don't know.

I don't know how to explain it. It was like penetrating within my spirit. And the voice said, you need to put on your seatbelt. Well, if you knew me at that time, I did not wear my seatbelt and I would drive 100 miles an hour down the road and I didn't care or whatever.

And so I was about to say, oh, no, I don't need to worry about it. And then it said that voice said again, no, you need to put on your seatbelt. And I put it on and I drove to the top of the hill going how many miles per hour, whatever it was, I'm not going to say. And I flew off the road, ran right into a tree because I had put my seatbelt on, because the Lord had saved me from that.

Because of his grace, I was able to walk out without a scratch. I told the state trooper who was there. I said, hey, this is what happened or whatever.

He said, if you did not have your seatbelt on, we would have a helicopter taking you over to Baptist Hospital right now. And that's kind of my story with that. But when I think about this as well, even your story of salvation, you weren't necessarily seeking after Christ or seeking after God. But you were living in your mother-in-law's house and you were in the hallway and something happened?

Yeah. So, I mean, some people have different experiences. You know, their salvation stories, mine was extremely radical, but I don't know if it was prayer, you know, of other people or what in the world caused this to happen. I guess just the grace of God, but I didn't have anybody sharing the gospel with me.

I know we live in the Bible Belt. I'm from upstate New York originally, so nobody shared the gospel with me up there. I had never heard it. And when I got here, nobody had also shared the gospel with me either. And so I never experienced anything like that. So if you looked at my life, you looked at what I was doing, you looked at my history, you wouldn't have said, that's a great candidate, you know, for a person that's going to, he's going to end up being born again and doing great things for Jesus, right?

But they didn't say that about Paul either and many of the other disciples. But yeah, so my experience was very supernatural, but I still had to respond. And I think of it, you know, some people have different experiences where they grew up in the church and maybe they have the knowledge of it.

And that's my wife's experience. She had the knowledge. She knew the scripture verses. She knew the gospel. She just really had to apply it to her life and make the decision to say, you know what? To say, you know what, I'm fully surrendered.

I'm all in. That's her story. My story was more like, I guess, similar to Paul's. And it was very drastic to where he was running in the opposite direction. And then boom, he hit, you know, he ended up right in the face of Jesus. And what it did, what it did with Paul was it confronted his pride. Okay.

Right. And so he was blind physically. I was spiritually blind at that point. And I had to sit back and ask myself, am I going to do something with this?

Am I going to make a decision? And the thing that held me back for those three weeks that I told you there was about three weeks in between the time that I was hearing that voice, tell me that it was leading to destruction, right? Well, tell us about what happened with the voice. What did it say? So I was walking down the hall of my mother-in-law's house. We were living, living there at the time and just walking down there, just not asking for anything, doing anything. And a voice said, Hey, Justin, if you continue to walk down this road, it will end in destruction.

That's all I heard. It didn't say anything further and it continued to repeat itself for weeks to come. I don't know if it was saying you weren't reading the Bible six hours a day. I never, I never even read the Bible yet.

I didn't, I didn't open a Bible until after I gave my life to Jesus. So, so in the natural, yeah, that couldn't have happened. Right. Absolutely. Absolutely.

So yeah. So that was my, that was my Paul experience. He knocked me off my high horse of pride and I had to do something with that. I had to figure out that's what for three weeks, and this is what held me back. It was also pride as well. I thought if, if, if, if I'm going to give my life to God, I've got to present something more than, than this guy.

Right. And so what really held me back was a little bit of religion already trying to creep in saying, uh, you need to fix yourself up and then you can present yourself before God. And he can, you know, he can change you. And what I realized in that three weeks is, you know what? I can't take this anymore. There was something in me.

What I didn't know it was conviction brewing, right? Something in me that was saying, you know what? You've just got to just go out for help. And I just reached out to the very first person that I could.

And luckily he was able to guide me in the right direction. Yeah. You know, the Bible says that, uh, we love him because he first loved us.

That's right. Um, and when I start to think about all of these things with grace and stuff like that, one of the things that I, that I've, as I've gotten to know you and your wife, Brooke and your children, Ty London, and Judah and Zion, Judah and Zion, my, uh, my five-year-old and four-year-old no, uh, no really like Zion. They've gotten to know him and just a really sweet family. But what I've seen since God has given you this grace, yeah. You and your wife, when I think about you guys, you're very forgiving people. Does the fact, does that have anything to do with God being gracious to you?

Yeah. He, who has, you know, been forgiven much can forgive much. So I think, so I think a lot of times how much forgiveness we've experienced, we've all experienced a mass amount of forgiveness, but I think sometimes when we've lived a radical life in opposition, um, it hits us a little harder and therefore we can, we can see where people are at, you know, honestly, I feel like I have more grace, uh, for blatant sinners than I do the religious, but so did Jesus. So I just say, I take after my dad, you know, my father, Jesus said, I do only what I see my father doing, but you know, that's kind of where we stand with that. We can never judge people in the respects of, we can say, Hey, you know, you don't deserve this or you don't deserve that because we look at what we've gone through and what God has forgiven us from. So we just try to extend that grace, that same amount of grace to people.

And as long as there's humility and people are willing to learn, um, and grow and they want Jesus, man, I'm all about that. Jesus, the one thing I think people get mixed up is they try to give everything they've got to everybody. And Jesus didn't do that.

You know, Jesus gave of himself as much as you were willing to give to him. There's a verse, I think it's in, in, in, uh, in the gospel of John chapter three, where it says, you know, Jesus was not entrusting himself to them, right? Because he knew what was in their hearts. So there were certain, certain people he would actually turn away because he knew either they were just there for the miracle or they were there for this and that, but he knew that he was one man and people would just go around him and try to suck him in every direction. And the Lord began to show us that, uh, just be led of the spirit. And it's that we extend grace to everybody, but take your time spending time and pouring into the people that the spirit is highlighting, that the spirit is drawing and that, uh, are gonna, are gonna bear much fruit.

I don't know. Does that make sense? It, it really does. And, um, since, since you've been doing this, uh, you've really had to give a lot of grace. You've really had to forgive a lot of people because you've had some people come against you, right?

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And so did Jesus. And I know it doesn't always make it any better when we read in the Bible, like you will be persecuted and it's always, we're like, yeah, yeah, we read over that. And then, um, and you know, then when it happens, it's a little harder to take in, but of course you've got to extend grace and you've got to, you know, look at what the scripture says and, and try to allow that to, uh, do the work that Jesus will allow it to do. And that is, it will conform you into the image of Christ. It says that Jesus, uh, you know, learned obedience through the things that he suffered. Um, so we can't expect that there wouldn't be points of suffering regardless if you live in a third world country and your persecution is getting hit in the face with a stone spit on or, um, you know, martyred, uh, yeah, that may be worse, but there's also, you know, a Western type of persecution, which is, Hey, I'm going to love you to your face and stab you in the back.

And I think that's, I don't want to downplay that either because that hurts and it does a lot of damage. And so you definitely need the grace of God, uh, you know, to minister to you, to get over that stuff. But we got the best example in the world and that's Jesus Christ. Amen. I was thinking about this as Matthew five, uh, starting in verse 43, it says, you have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father, who is in heaven for he causes his son to rise on the evil and the good. And he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous for if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

Do not even the tax collectors do the same. If you greet only your brothers or sisters, what more are you doing than others do not even the Gentiles do the same. Therefore you are to be perfect even as your heavenly father is perfect. And I tell you what, without the grace of God, I, I can't do it. Uh, but Justin and the final 35 seconds that we have, what's your final message on grace? That would be, you're not going to be able to extend that grace.

You know, what you said earlier was, was, uh, we love because he first loved us. You're not going to be able to extend grace. You're going to end up trying to do it in your flesh. If you've not fully experienced the grace of God in your life through Jesus Christ. So I would say, take your time to build a relationship with Jesus and experience that grace yourself, and then go out and extend that same grace to other people.

It's always going to have to flow from the vine. You can't do this on your own. And that would be my message. That would be the message. And if you've never said yes to Jesus, I want to encourage you right now to surrender your life to Jesus and say, Jesus, forgive me of my sins. I know I'm a sinner and I commit my life to you. Um, you may not know where to start, but just, uh, you can look us up on the truth network.

You can look up a unshakable kingdom. You can make a comment there. And, uh, Justin Newt, uh, thanks for coming on.

If not for God. All right. For my YouTube channel. If not for God with Mike Zwick, just like, subscribe, and hit that notification bell. So you'll be alerted when we have our next video. Okay. Bye. This is the truth network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 10:27:42 / 2022-11-16 10:41:00 / 13

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