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Dispensers Of Grace

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2022 8:00 am

Dispensers Of Grace

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt

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April 11, 2022 8:00 am

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Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. We love accepting the grace of God. We love receiving it. We love singing about it. We love giving testimony to it. But when we are to give grace to others, we balk. No, I don't think so. We can do that.

It's a terrible thing. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's word meets our world.

As a lot of you already know, I have had a lifelong love affair with reading. And I love reading books about the state of the church, the American church, the evangelical church. But sometimes when I'm reading about the state of the church in America, I begin to pray that I hope that he's not writing about our church. Because so much has been so critical for so long about the church. This last week, I was really challenged as I was reading about grace and the evangelical church in America.

Andy Stanley wrote this. He said, churches talk about grace, singing how amazing it is, but they create graceless cultures within the church. There's a big difference between preaching a message about grace and creating a community of grace. Linda All wrote, grace received but unexpressed is dead grace. To spend one's time debating how grace is received or how much commitment is necessary for salvation without getting into what it means to live by grace and to enjoy the magnificent freedom it provides quickly leads to a counterproductive argument. Philip Yancey wrote this. How is it that Christians called to dispense the aroma of grace instead omit the noxious fumes of ungrace? I was challenged by Yancey's words. Are we dispensers of grace here as a congregation?

Are we emitting the noxious odors of ungrace? Serious business. Maybe more specifically, are you a dispenser of grace?

And I don't mean just in the context here, but I mean in your life. Are you a dispenser of grace? We need to be warned about that. And God warns us. I want you to open your Bibles to Zachariah Chapter four. Zachariah is a post exilic prophet, which means he came to prophesy after the exile, after the 70 year captivity in Babylon. The reason that he came is that everything in the Holy Land, specifically in Jerusalem, was destroyed or burned and had been for decades. The temple was in ruins. After 70 years in captivity, some of the Jews began to come back to the land led by Nehemiah. And at the time of Nehemiah, they rebuilt the walls for security and laid a foundation for the temple. And then they did nothing.

As a matter of fact, they spent the next 15 years not doing anything more on the temple at all. And so God sent them a prophet and his name was Haggai. He comes right before Zachariah.

And Haggai is a vintage fire and brimstone prophet. He is very strong with the people. He is in their face. He has sharp words, stinging sarcasm and scathing rebukes.

He said to them, I'll dare you. How can you be remodeling your homes while the home of God lies barren? Well, he got them all motivated for a short time, but then they got tired of listening to him. That often happens with people who are primarily rebukers.

And so they began to become apathetic again. And in that kind of background, God sends Zachariah a very different kind of prophet. In fact, Cal Yates writes, Zachariah does not rebuke or condemn or berate the people with striking colors and vivid imagination. He paints glowing pictures of the presence of God to strengthen and to help them. Words of inspiration flow from his lips. Zachariah has these visions.

It is probably the most difficult book in the entire Bible, certainly in the Old Testament, to interpret. In fact, his visions are so mystical and beautiful that he doesn't even know what they mean. And so that's what he starts out with here.

But he gets to a very important point. Chapter four, verse one, he says, the angel who was speaking with me returned and aroused me as a man who was awakened from asleep. And he said to me, what do you see? And I said, I see, behold, a lampstand, all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on top of it.

And also to all of trees by one on the right side of the bowl and the other on the left side. And then he answered, I answered and said to the angel who was speaking with me, what are these, my Lord? And the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, do you not know what these are? He goes, I have no idea. No, I just saw something, but I don't know what it is.

Now, what's interesting about it is that immediately you don't even find out what it is. But God gives a warning to the people of Israel at this time. He gives a warning to the people of our church at our time. He gives a warning to Zachariah and he gives a warning to you and to me. Then he answered and he said, this is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.

He is the governor. He said, saying, not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts. There's his principle and there's his rebuke.

What's he talking about? Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit. And then he says this, what are you, O great mountain, before Zerubbabel? You will become a plane and he will bring forth the top stone, which shouts of grace, grace to it.

Wow. You see, they had a problem. That's why it's called a mountain. By the way, don't you call your problems mountains?

I have a mountain to face. They had a mountain to face and theirs was a real problem. They had people who were completely apathetic. They had enemies outside the walls that wanted to drive them back out of the land. And they clearly had finances because they had to rebuild the temple and the whole city of Jerusalem.

And they had this problem. And just like us, when they have a problem, they decided the way to get about doing it is to get about doing it. And you do this, you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and you put a plan in place and you do your own work and you do your own thing. And God politely but clearly says, no, that's wrong.

You won't succeed. In fact, what he ends up saying here is this. He says there will be shouts of grace, grace to it.

God says, I'm going to do it. How do you think you got to be my people? My doing. How do you think you come out of Egypt? That'd be my doing.

How do you think you got to the land? That'd be my doing. How do you think you're back now from Babylon? No, that's my doing. So how are you going to rebuild?

That'd be my doing. Boy, that is a lesson that we don't learn well. It's an amazing thing with Christians that we often when we face the mountains of our life, we're not people of grace. We're not relying on God. We use power and might.

Theodore Lash and his work on the Minor Prophets says this. The two Hebrew words might and power denote inner strength, inherent power, courageous bravery, fortitude, as well as manpower. Large numbers of soldiers, riches, leaders, well-coordinated organizations, good financial systems, et cetera. But the Lord's work, the building of his temple, the inner growth, the expansion of his church cannot be carried out by mere external means. Human strength and wisdom alone will always fail. God's spirit must do it. Does that describe your life?

Think of the biggest problems you've faced in the last few years. Is that where you were dependent on the spirit of God, on the grace of God? For God to do it or do you come up with your own power, your own might, your own fleshly plans? By the way, the reason we do that and the reason it's so hard for us is that our own power and might gets results. You see, it does. It gets results.

And we think, well, that's the way to go then. As long as I can get results, human ingenuity works. God says it's not by might, it's not by power, it's not by our own ingenuity. The work of the flesh will not amount to zilch in light of eternity. See, God has that better idea. His idea is there'll be shouts of grace, grace. I love the living Bible paraphrase here. Therefore, no mountain, however high, can stand before Zerubbabel, for it will flatten out before him and Zerubbabel will finish this temple with mighty shouts of thanksgiving for God's mercy, declaring that it was all done by grace alone.

Wow. The question of the morning for you is, are you a dispenser of the grace of God? Are you? I know you're receivers of the grace of God. All of you who have been saved are happy receivers of the grace of God. You've been saved by grace and you're glad for it, but that's not the question of the day.

The question of the day is, are you a dispenser of the grace of God? How do you influence the people God has placed in your life? How do you get things done? See, how do you get things done in your family, place of business, neighbors, employees, children, siblings, spouses?

How do you get things done? By dispensing grace or something else. Some of us can do it by charisma. By the way, the amount of charisma is directly proportional to how well people know you. So if you have a lot of charisma and people don't know you, you can really move them. But if you have a lot of charisma and you try that on your wife, that's not going to work too much.

Charisma requires a certain amount of not knowing. Sometimes we use pressure and force. We lean on people to get things done, sometimes threats. You can get people to move if you threaten them. See, it's all part of our control idea. Sometimes intimidation. Intimidate people to do the things you want done. Sometimes we use deceit, manipulation, guilt, fear. Boy, the church over the last 2,000 years has used a lot of guilt and a lot of fear to try to motivate its people. See, how do you deal with the mountains that you're facing in your life, the problems?

Do you use worldly wisdom, pragmatism, denial, avoidance? See, there's a warning here. Chuck Swindoll writes, My warning stands, anything that does not result in God's getting the glory ought to be enough to restrain our own might and power so that His Spirit can do the job, which includes removing the obstacles. It is easy to forget that not all the grace killers are out there. He said many of them are in here, in the ranks of the church, trying to do God's will their way. Well, enough negativism.

I don't want to try to manipulate you by thinking you feel guilty. So what I'd like to do then is show you three characteristics in the New Testament of what people who are God's people who dispense grace, what they're like. The first is going to be finding the book of Acts, Chapter 4. The church has just begun. Acts Chapter 2, we have the birth of the church. What would the mountain be for the early church?

What would the mountain be? Where's the problem? The problem is this. They live in the midst of a culture that hates them, that detests them. That pressures them. That persecutes them. You see, they were all either Gentile proselytes to Judaism, but they were all Jews in the early church. And they were in Jerusalem. And the Jews who had been responsible for crucifying Jesus Christ hated the church. In fact, we find out even later, 20-some years later with the book of Hebrews, that you find out that they had their homes confiscated, their property grabbed, lost their friends.

That's a big problem. And so they began to sort of huddle together. But they had enormous stress because they also had Jews who had come to the Passover from all over that part of the world who were staying in Jerusalem waiting for the second coming of Christ. And so that's their mountain.

But look at their solution. In verse 32 of Acts, Chapter 4. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. The first characteristic of a Christian who is a dispenser of grace is generosity with their own possessions. A Christian who is a dispenser of grace is a generous human being.

That's exactly what Paul says to the Corinthians when he's writing to them in 2 Corinthians 9, and he said that God loves a hilarious, cheerful, hilarious, the Greek word giver. It's grace. It's grace.

They love doing that. In fact, notice, and with great power, the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. It's the grace. They were generous. They were happy. They were glad to do it. You see, if you are a grace dispenser, you don't cling on to your own possessions. You're happy to give. And I don't mean just in church.

I mean anywhere. I mean to friends and family and neighbors and those who need. You're just happy to do it. Grace should be your motive. You see, a person who is characteristic of a dispenser of grace is a person who has no real tie, no real sense of their personal possessions. They have an absence of selfishness.

That's just the way they are. There is a second characteristic, and it's found in Acts chapter 11 and verse 19. Let me give you again the background and tell you what the mountain is. The people get dispersed out of Jerusalem because Stephen is martyred and everybody starts getting afraid. And they go and they begin to talk to people about the Lord. And they start talking to Gentiles about the Lord, Greeks, Romans, Gentiles.

And guess what? Many of them start trusting in the Lord. Now that really bothered the Jews who are already following the Lord. We're the covenant people. We're Abraham's sons.

The Lord is our Messiah. Why would Gentiles be allowed into this scenario even though Jesus had told them in the parables of Matthew 13 and that was exactly what was going to happen? But they didn't like it. What was the mountain here? Prejudice. There was a mountain of prejudice here.

And so here's how the story sort of works itself out. Verse 19. So then there arose those who were scattered because of persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen, made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except the Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks and preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them. And a large number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church of Jerusalem.

Now, that should have turned into a hallelujah praise the Lord meeting. That's not what they did. It says they sent Barnabas off to Antioch to check it out. Now, they had a bad idea, but they sent the right person. They sent Barnabas.

Now, watch what happens. It says, when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them, he says, all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. The second characteristic of a person who is a dispenser of the grace of God is that they offer encouragement in problematic situations with an absence of caution.

They just encourage. Problem comes up, he wants to encourage. That's all he wanted to do. He is a great dispenser of grace. He is a good man. He is Barnabas. Notice what he doesn't say.

He doesn't say, hey, wait a minute. I don't know about you guys even getting into the kingdom. I mean, you're not Jews. You're not part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Your men aren't circumcised. You see, you haven't ever kept the Mosaic law. You don't even know the Mosaic law.

I don't know if you can get in. He didn't do any of that. He just encouraged them. You see, if you're a dispenser of grace, that's what you do. You encourage people.

Let me ask you this question. When people show an interest in Jesus Christ, do you just encourage them? I found this story years ago, but I love this story because it makes the point so clear. Chuck Swindoll, again, when he was pastor of the church in Fullerton, the E. Free Church in Fullerton, California. He says, a young man stumbled into our church one Sunday evening. He was stunned to see a building full of folks singing and having a great time together.

And there he stood, barefoot, cutoffs, no shirt, full beard, all alone. I watched from the platform as he stared in amazement. We found out later that it was the first time in his life he had ever been inside of a church among a congregation. He wandered down the side aisle, looking at us like a calf staring at a new gate. One of our members invited him to sit next to him, shared his hymnal, and answered some of his questions. It was wonderful to see such grace in action.

I loved it. Following that particular evening meeting, the young man immediately came forward down front to talk to me. He had a dozen or more questions, all of them excellent.

I noticed sin was still sticking in the hairs of his legs. He was fresh off the beach. He was treated with kindness and respect.

No one told him what he should wear or how he should act. A couple of the fellows invited him to have a Coke and a hamburger with them. He was surprised, but he accepted.

Not surprisingly, he was back the next Sunday. And the next, within a matter of weeks, he became a Christian. And he spoke of how our love and acceptance and encouragement won him. He publicly testified of his faith in Christ when he was baptized. The context of grace gave him room to grow, to think, and to be himself, to ask questions. That young man later finished his university work and attended and graduated from seminary and now is in full-time ministry.

He said, I think he's even wearing shoes now. He walks into our church. Is that how we treat him? You see, is that how we treat him when someone walks in like that? What is he doing here?

What are they there? And grace. You see, grace, just think of how you and I look before a holy God.

A lot worse than a guy in cutoffs with a beard and no shirt. He says, all I have for them is grace. You see, if we're dispensers of grace, not only are we generous with our personal possessions, but we encourage people in problematic situations.

There is a third and final characteristic. Turn to 1 Timothy chapter 1 and the Apostle Paul. Verse 12, Paul says, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me because he considered me faithful, putting me into his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. A characteristic of a Christian who is a dispenser of grace is this.

They are released from their own past failures and they release others of their past failures. In other words, there's no shame. Notice what Paul said, blasphemer, persecutor, violent aggressor.

He probably ordered the stoning and martyrdom of Stephen. How do you think he felt about that in his past? But he never speaks of shame here because that's what grace does. Grace erases shame.

We saw that, by the way, didn't we, with Rahab, the harlot, the woman at the well. Grace erases your shame. And if you're a dispenser of grace, you release yourself from your past shame.

I don't care what it was, divorce, addict, ex-con, financial failure, drunkard, it doesn't matter. Grace releases you. Now you have the grace to release others. I hate to say this, but I really believe that churches are shame machines. They've spent thousands of years just making people feel ashamed. It's not grace. Shame is a grace killer.

It's counterproductive and it's debilitating. You see, if we are dispensers of grace, we release people from shame and ourselves. It's an amazing thing to be a believer in Jesus Christ and still be a sinful human being. We love accepting the grace of God. We love receiving it. We love singing about it. We love giving testimony to it. But when we are to give grace to others, we balk. No, I don't think so.

No one can do that. It's a terrible thing. If you're a dispenser of the God's grace, you're generous with your personal possessions. You offer encouragement in problematic situations. And you release yourself and others from shame. That's what dispensers of grace of God do. I want to look at one last verse. Sort of a charge, if you would, to 2 Timothy.

Very easy to find from where you are. 2 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 1. I love what Paul does here. He's writing to young Timothy and he says, You, it's emphatic in the Greek.

That's why it's first. You, therefore, my son. You, Timothy. You, Bill. You, John. You, Sally.

You. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you're part of the you here. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Be strong in the grace.

Why does he have to tell Timothy that? Because it's so easy to go adrift. It's so easy to become ungraced. It's so easy to buy into the grace killers.

It's so easy to do that. And he says, Timothy, look, you be strong in it. How do I stay strong in the grace of God? He said, Let it be your passion. Let the grace of God be your passion.

Let it be your pursuit. Model it. Demonstrate it.

Teach it. Be a person of grace. Saved by grace. Live by grace. The receiver of grace. Be a dispenser of grace. I'm not certain where we are as a church. But I pray that we are people who dispense grace with our generosity, with our encouragement, and our release from past failures. I pray for all of us and I pray for each one of us that that's what we are. God expects nothing less of us.

He's clear about that. His love for us motivated him to bathe us in grace. And our love for him and our fellow men should make us willful, encouraging, hilarious, cheerful, happy dispensers of grace to others. You've been listening to Pastor Bill Gebhardt on the Radio Ministry of Fellowship in the Word. If you ever miss one of our broadcasts, or maybe you would just like to listen to the message one more time, remember that you can go to a great website called That's, and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online.

At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana, 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 19:48:07 / 2023-05-08 19:58:49 / 11

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