I remember my college days and one of the early lessons that God taught me about honesty and character. It was December and I was finishing up exams, anxious to take the three hour drive home. I realized that last week of school, that I was broke and I had no gas in my car. I didn't have time to ask my parents to send me money. Hey - back then all we had was snail mail. So I decided to do something wrong, I wrote a bad check. I went to the drive thru at my bank, handed the lady a check for $10 and she cashed it without hesitation. I put gas in my car, drove back to school, finished my exams and made it home to "enjoy" Christmas.
However what I was not counting on happened. My mom checked the mail and said I had a letter. I looked at the letter and it was from my bank. I opened it to find a note from the teller that I had given the bad check to. She shared with me how she was responsible for the shortage and told me that I had cheated her and most of all myself. She said she was disappointed as I was attending a Christian school and I had given her the impression that Christian students are not to be trusted. I was devastated and even worse nothing I could do about it until after the holidays. I had to live with that guilt all Christmas long.
When I went back to school I went straight to the bank and asked for that teller. I apologized, reimbursed her for the funds and asked her forgiveness. She was gracious and shared with me that she was a believer. Long story short, she forgave me and we became friends. I never went to the bank again without talking with her. I had received grace beyond what I deserved. I can tell you it was so much more enjoyable going to the bank and seeing her than driving by and feeling guilt. Needless to say I've never written a bad check since that December day. By the way, for our younger readers who never write a check, a "bad check" is one you write and you have no funds in your account to cover it.
I share this with you to remind us all that there is only one requirement for enjoying God's grace: being broke and knowing it. God invites us, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (Isaiah 55:1). Until we are willing to be broke and admit our need, we will never experience the fullness of God's grace. As John Newton wrote, "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see".
Don't forget Sunday we will have ONE service at 10:30 a.m. We'll have children's choir, students in the orchestra, special videos and candle lighting. You will not want to miss this opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus. By the way, we do have church tonight so I'll see you at 6:30 p.m.
Please pray for Geoff and Brittany Werth, our missionaries in Africa. This week someone broke into their home and stole valuable items including computers. If you'd like to join me in giving a little something to help replace the computers you can give a designated gift online or in the offering on Sunday.