Arthur T. Moffat — Pastor
Grace notes are extra notes played in music. They’re unexpected. Added for something special. They aren’t a part of the piece.
(right here the pianist or keyboardist plays a couple of lines of “Jesus Loves Me” with a few added grace notes. Just to allow those not familiar with what grace notes are in music to know what they are and how they are unexpectedly added)
Just as there are grace notes in music, so there are grace notes in our lives. Unexpected moments that break into the humdrum of life. Bring special joy. Like when the kids were little, and they would just spontaneously come up with, “I love you!” Even on days I didn’t deserve it—those were grace notes in my life.
The Book of John tells us that Jesus became flesh. Grace notes are like the Incarnation. Where Mary was touched by the Holy Spirit and Jesus became flesh. Grace notes for us are when Christ visits us. Just us! Sometimes in church, sometimes in prayer, sometimes in our daily lives. When something extraordinary; something unexpected happens just for us.
I had a friend named Derik. Derik played linebacker in college. he wasn’t drafted by a pro team, but he was called by several teams after the draft to see if he would try out out for those teams. That was a terrific honor. Yet, a short time before Derik received those phone calls, God had called him to become a pastor. He had told God “Yes.” And he was going to carry out God’s call. Derik had a family, a wife and three children. He also had an old compact car that just fit his whole family as long as the kids didn’t grow too quickly. One day Derik’s wife pulled him aside and gave him some great news—they were going to have another baby! Derik said to me, “All I could think about was that you couldn’t fit another child into that car.” He was a seminary student. Paying tuition and buying groceries and diapers didn’t allow much else. He said to me, “I said LORD, you called me into this, what are going to about this new child that is coming and no room in the car.”
The next day he was walking down the street when a man he only knew by sight came over to him. He asked if he were Derik Heinz, and Derik said, yes he was. This man asked Derik, “Aren’t you the pastor of the church down the street? Derik said yes. The man then said, “I don’t really understand this, but The Lord told me that I am to give you a station wagon. I don’t really know if you want one or not, but I’m sure that’s what The Lord told me.”
That, was a grace note!
Sometimes God is urging us to be a grace note to someone. You begin to think that you ought to write a note to someone, or make a phone call, or visit someone who you haven’t visited for a while. The thought then becomes more urgent and you know that you must do that particular thing. And if you respond to that urging, you become a part of the INCARNATION . You become a grace note in someone’s life. Remember, when we give as a grace note, we give through Christ. We give because Christ urges us, expecting no return. Nothing.
New Living Translation (NLT)
12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17
Did you notice that when Noah saw the rainbow he was looking in that direction. God had Noah facing in the right direction. I’m sure that I have missed rainbows because I was facing the other direction and completely missed it.
When the LORD gives you a grace note, He will be facing you in the right direction. So that you can see it. You may not. But God had you facing the right direction so that you can see it. Sometimes we see it and say, “Isn’t that interesting. Or, isn’t that luck.” Completely missing that we just missed understanding that Almighty God just placed that before me. Just FOR me.
The Holy Spirit goes where He will to go. Just like the rainbow. God chose the PLACE and the TIME. Christ placing flesh against flesh. Making something happen when we least expect it. Just for me.
Another thing about grace notes is that sometimes we don’t recognize them. In times of unfaithfulness they diminish. In times of our faithfulness they increase. Have you ever been watching a magnificent sunset, when suddenly, in just a split second, there is a shift in the light or the color that no one could have seen unless they were standing there with you and looking too. And you said to the person standing right beside you , “Wasn’t that amazing!” And they say, “That was beautiful.” That person standing beside you did not see it. Not what you saw. They saw the colors. But that second of brilliance that you saw was not available to them. That was a grace note. Just for you. From God.
Start thanking God for the beauty around. Looking for the grace notes within it.
When we lived in western Kentucky, one summer I needed to paint under the eves of our house. It gets so hot in Kentucky in the summer time that I had to start at 6:00 in the morning. By 11:00 my paint brush would just start to dry before I could get the paint on the house. And by the way, under the eves, up on a ladder in the heat of a Kentucky summer isn’t a vacation spot, if you know what I mean.
So one morning as I climbed that ladder at 6:00, I began to pray. I decided that I was just going to pray all the while I was painting. As I got to the top of that ladder, I noticed the tiniest of cloud in the sky. It was the only cloud in that bright, blue, warm Kentucky sky. But it was there and it happened to be covering over the sun. It was just big enough to completely cover the 6:00 sun. As I prayed through the morning, I began to notice that the cloud remained covering the sun. At 7:00. At 9:00. At 11:00. Only cloud in the sky. Yet it remained covering the sun. Kept the intense heat off of that paint brush and off of me. I was able to paint until noon that day. An accident? Lucky? No. The LORD was was blessing me for talking with Him through the morning. That was a grace note.
Grace notes are in all our lives, especially when we are faithful. We miss more than we see. Some are glaring. Like Noah. Some, you just have to notice them. Expect them.
There was a guy I knew in Kentucky. He was a radio DJ and was known over the area as a wild man. His name was Rudy.
Well, this guy became a Christian. He was a new Christian and he simply radiated light. One Sunday I was sitting directly behind him in worship (I was a teacher then and not a pastor) . I shook his hand as he sat in the pew in front of me. The service began and ended. Several days later, I was at a meeting with this guy and others. At the end of this planning meeting the pastor asked if anyone had anything happen to them that past week they wanted to mention. And Rudy immediately said, “Wasn’t that an amazing beam of light that came into the sanctuary on Sunday?” Rudy just lit up when he said it. You could tell that he could still see that amazing beam of light. But do you know what? I didn’t see it. I was sitting right behind. There was no brilliant beam of light coming through that window that Sunday morning. No one else saw it either. The other guys just had this puzzled look on their faces when Rudy said it. God had placed that brilliant beam of light just so Rudy could see it.. A grace note. Only given for Rudy. By God Himself.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.” Meaning, that when my life started with Jesus Christ, He gave me new eyes and new ears.
1 Samuel 3:1 says, “In those days there were few visions.” Meaning that the LORD just wasn’t giving those people many visions of God’s future for them, but that included grace notes. There were not many given in those days. There were days, really years of unfaithfulness to Almighty God.
Sometimes I wonder: what grace notes did I miss today? Or, what grace note had God planned for me today? And then, you wonder – what grace note did God want ME to provide today. To be His presence. His incarnation
The greatest grace note was the cross and resurrection. When all those people were spewing spit and venom at Jesus, the Savior of the lost world. The King of Kings. The LORD of LORDs. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.” That prayer was for us, too.
My Aunt Marion decided one day that she wanted to be more aware of the grace notes in her life. She had my Uncle Ken make a cross for their back yard. It measured about 3 feet by 4 feet. She placed that cross under a tree in their back yard. Then she bought a bag of smooth marble stones. She also bought a notebook. From then on, when she saw or experienced a grace note, she would take one of the stones, mark a number on it with magic marker, then in her notebook record the grace note that corresponded with that numbered rock. She made a point of being intentional about noticing those grace notes that the Holy Spirit was giving her. Before she left that home and their back yard, she had hundreds of rocks around that cross.
Ask Almighty God for eyes to see.
Sometimes I wonder – what grace notes did I miss today? Or what grace notes God provided just for me? And then I wonder—what grace note did God want me to provide for someone else today—to be His Presence, to be His INCARNATION?
Jesus is LORD
New Living Translation
Just One Drop of Cool Water
Have you seen the TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? The one man in this story could have appeared on that show. The Bible gives him no name but history calls him Dives.
I’ll call him by that name today.
Dives really whopped it up in life. He lived it big. He lived life flamboyantly everyday. Everyone knew Dives had it made materially.
Now Dives had a big fence around his property. Like Hollywood. He had a gate for his family, guests,and horses to go and to come.
Outside that gate lay a man. V 20 says he had been put there by someone and left him. And his body, face and head were full of sores.
God gives us a name of this poor beggar. His name was Lazarus. Why did god give this poor beggar a name? Because the poor man had a future. Lazarus had no friends — except the dogs — the many stray dogs of the city. These friends of his, the stray dogs, did the only kind thing that ever happened to Lazarus. They licked his sores from head to foot.
When the sun shined, Lazarus was lying outside the gate.
When it become midnight, Lazarus was lying outside the gate.
When it rained and it snowed, beautiful, large, white flakes, Lazarus was lying outside the gate.
Lazarus laid down outside Dives’ gate so that he might be able to be given the crumbs that were swept up from the floor after Dives ate.
And that’s what Lazarus ate.
And that’s what Lazarus ate.
And that’s what Lazarus ate.
And then one day Lazarus died. Out there in the street , outside the gate. He was given no funeral. His name was never in an obituary. There was no one to attend his funeral . He was buried in a pauper’s place or thrown over into the city garbage pit. And the dogs had to look for someone else to lick and to sooth sores from malnutrition.
Next thing that Lazarus knows, he’s in Paradise. Paradise is like heaven but it is not heaven.
Because Jesus had not yet died and resurrected. No human was in heaven until that happened. There were only the angels and God the Father.
Some time after this, Dives dies. He has a great funeral. The mayor, congressman, all the well known people attend. The next thing Dives knows— his sprit is in Hades
Hades is understood as the land of darkness. It is similar to hell. But, because Jesus had not yet died and resurrected no human could be in hell. God did not allow Satan to place anyone there, yet. Hell is for the rejected of Jesus as LORD. And He became LORD of heaven and earth following His going to the cross and being resurrected as believers will be resurrected.
And amid the flames of Hades, Dives looks up through this huge chasm between Hades and Paradise, and he sees Lazarus in Paradise. There is no road between Hades and Paradise.
And, Lazarus is lying on a couch in comfort, beside Abraham who had died a thousand years earlier. Abraham had also been wealthy on earth but on earth, Abraham gave his full life and direction to God, and he helped people like Lazarus. Telling us that this situation, that Jesus is telling is not about the rich and the poor. And it is clear, that this is not a story or a parable.
Interesting how Jesus shows both these men of means into the incident. One on one side of this huge chasm and one on the other side.
And in Paradise, Lazarus had no sores, no pain, no poverty. In verse 22 it tells us that angels took him up. The man who no one on earth even knew his name, the angels took him up to Paradise and he was received in glory. And he was received in joy. The man who on earth no one even knew his name but God.
Meanwhile, the self-indulgent, self centered Dives, the one who threw crumbs to Lazarus outside the gate was in the torment of Hades.
He had lived without God on earth and will now live without God through eternity. And while in Hades, Dives calls up to Abraham
v.24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.”
Just to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.
We remember on the cross Christ says,
And we think, “Just give Him something to drink for heaven’s sake!” And all they give him is some sour wine when he had lost all that blood.
Now here is Dives. A man who could have fed his whole town Prime Beef every evening, but who would only give the Lord the crumbs from his marble table.
The Lord? I thought that we were talking about Dives here.
Matthew 25:40 “… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Dives is now in Hades. It is not our Lord who thirsts this time or Lazarus, it is Dives the unrighteous. He who didn’t give God the time of day.
Yet what do we want to do? I don’t know about all of you, but I want to give Dives a drink. Most of us are saying, “We can’t stand him being in that pain!”
Self centered, cold hearted as he was on earth, we can’t stand that pain, that thirst in Hell, the fires, the darkness.
v27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. v28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
29“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
30“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Jesus is essentially saying that Dives’ five brothers , who are just like Dives, are headed where he is headed. This is one of the roughest interpretations of the Bible. Because, this is what Jesus is getting at—We DO want to give Dives a drink. We don’t want even this very selfish man to suffer, but we can’t give him even a drink. Because it is too late. There will always be a point for some when it is too late.
Here’s the teaching:
Take the desire you have to give a cup of cool water to Dives, take that Christian desire you have to take cup of cool water to our selfish and now suffering Dives, and give it to someone that you know who is living as self-centered and selfish as Dives has lived, here and now. And take that cup as lovingly and as lovely as you would take the cup of cool water to Jesus, or as compassionately as you would to the suffering Dives in Hell.
If only someone had taken the water of life to Dives before he died.
Jesus, the Gospel. But Jesus said, He lived life here so aloof from Almighty God, that he would never receive it.
It’s too late for Dives.
We say, “He deserves another chance.”
God says, “He had a lifetime of chances and opportunities. He thumbed his nose at his chances.”
Let’s place the anguish we have for this man’s spirit in hell toward the people we live with in our town, who are living but dead in Christ. There are many people we know who are headed to the same pit — the same hell as Dives, who are going to be asking for a drop of cool water someday, if someone doesn’t first take the living water to them here on earth.
There are surely those people whom you have been praying for their soul.
There are many people in your area headed to the same pit – the same hell- as Dives. Who are going to be asking for that same drop of cool water some day, if someone doesn’t 1st take them living water here on earth.
And, whether that one calls for it may well depend upon us. We all know some of them. I was one of them. And someone brought to me the living water. You never know that you are empty, until you are full – spiritually. Whether we give that person our Christian attention or,,,,,,,, our worldly indifference.
Worrying about them is the same as indifference. Doing something about them is doing the Gospel thing.
Who do you know who needs a cup of the water of life and may be headed to needing a drop of cool water?
Jesus Is LORD