Pretty amazing grace
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. – 1 Timothy 1:15-16
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!
6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Neil Diamond, an American singer-songwriter, was born in Brooklyn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland. He went on to become one of the best-selling musicians of all time with sales of over one hundred million albums. Sweet Caroline is one of the best-known songs in the United States. In the 1960s and 70s, many of his songs spoke of free love. He lived a very hedonistic lifestyle. When he was 77 years old he announced that he was retiring from the stage due to Parkinson’s disease.
Despite his great musical and financial success, his personal life was in shambles. He was depressed, lonely, and had no joy in his heart. He tried oriental mysticism, meditation, psychoanalysis, charity work, and political activism. But none of these things worked for him. In the last years of Johnny Cash’s life, Neil Diamond spent time with him, even performing songs at his house.
Something totally unexpected and startling happened in 2005. Neil found new faith. He began to refer to himself as “A Man of God” who had found “Pretty amazing grace.” His language and songs placed him squarely in the camp of born-again evangelical faith. He was now singing for God.
Man of God (2005)
Singing for Him is like touching the sky I don’t need to know why
I just know that it is Each time I sing out I want to rejoice ‘Cause when I hear my voice
I believe that it’s His And I am, yes I am, I’m a man of hope.
I haven’t stopped believin’ yet And while we’re headin’ down that road.
Hope is what we can’t forget And I am yes I am, I’m a man of God.
Know I am, yes I am, I’m a man, I’m a man of faith.
I’m a man, yes I am, I’m a man, I’m a man of peace.
He soon experienced pretty amazing grace and began to sing about it as well.
Pretty Amazing Grace (2008)
Pretty amazing grace is what You showed me. Pretty amazing grace is who You are
I was an empty vessel. You filled me up inside. And with amazing grace restored my pride
Pretty amazing grace is how You saved me. And with amazing grace reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos. Calm in the heat of war. Showed with amazing grace what love was for
You forgave my insensitivity. And my attempt to then mislead You.
You stood beside a wretch like me. Your pretty amazing grace was all I needed.
Stumbled inside the doorway of Your chapel. Humbled in God by everything I found
Beauty and love surround me. Freed me from what I fear.
Ask for amazing grace and You appear.
You overcame my loss of hope and faith. Gave me a truth I could believe in.
You led me to a higher place. Showed Your amazing grace. When grace was what I needed
Look in a mirror I see Your reflection. Open a book You live on every page.
I fall and You’re there to lift me. Share every road I climb. And with amazing grace You ease my mind
Came to You with empty pockets first. When I returned I was a rich man.
Didn’t believe love could quench my thirst. But with amazing grace You showed me that it can.
In Your amazing grace I had a vision. From that amazing place I came to be
Into the night I wandered. Wandering aimlessly. Found Your amazing grace to comfort me.
You overcame my loss of hope and faith, Gave me a truth I could believe in.
You led me to that higher place. Showed me that love and truth and hope and grace were all I needed.
Pretty amazing grace is what Neil Diamond needed all along. Now he had found it. Pretty amazing grace and love cover a multitude of disappointments, failures, dead ends, losses, and sins.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Humbled in God by everything I found beauty and love surround me. Freed me from what I fear. Ask for amazing grace and You appear. You overcame my loss of hope and faith. Gave me a truth I could believe in. You led me to a higher place. Showed Your amazing grace” (Pretty Amazing Grace).
Father thank You that You provide pretty amazing grace for all children of the King.
Neil diamond’s experiences are in no way unique. History is replete with remarkable stories of how the Father brings children of the King to Himself. When the apostle Paul first encountered the light of the Lord Jesus Christ he was initially blinded. When his sight returned, Paul saw as he has never seen before. Pretty amazing grace puts us into service despite our past sins. The Father graciously places us in service and trusts us regardless of our former unbelieving and defiant past.
Before Paul did 180° turn. His behavior was utterly wretched. He was the worst of the worst, the worst of them all.
1 Timothy 1:15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I am the worst of them!
When the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, He was sent on a mission by the Father. He was to be the Savior of sinners. But who are sinners?
People are sinners by disposition and action. This is the sad condition of the entire human race. People have all inherited a sinful disposition from Adam and Eve. It is part of their spiritual DNA. In life, they simply act it out. Sin is autonomous action separate from or in defiance of the Father. Sin is contrary to the will and law of God. When we search inside, sin is lurking in the shadows.
The thought that Paul is trying to convey may be stated, “Christ Jesus came into the world to free sinners from their evil condition!” Or “People have sinful hearts (or, minds), so they sin. But Christ Jesus came to rescue them from their sinful condition” (UBS).
Through pretty amazing grace, Paul was rescued. In his 70s, Neil Diamond was rescued. Every child of the King has been rescued.
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
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