Mercy and Grace

Here is last week’s lesson from my online international women’s ministry. I hope it blesses you, too!

Hello, sisters! Today we are going to look at the ideas of MERCY and GRACE.

Before we talk about mercy and grace, we need to talk about three more words: Earn, deserve, and wage.

  • Earn – er+n – rhymes with learn
  • De-serve – dee-zerv
  • Wage – long a – way+j. Way – wage.

First, I’ll explain these three words to you using a story from my life.

I remember when I got my first job. I was only 14 years old. I worked as a cashier in a fast-food restaurant. I EARNED $3.35 for every hour that I worked. $3.35 was my hourly WAGE.

I really looked forward to getting my paycheck every week. I worked hard for every dollar that I earned. I EARNED money every week for my hard work. I DESERVED my paycheck because I worked hard at the fast-food restaurant.

Now I work as an English teacher online. I work hard before class to prepare for the lessons. During class, I pay attention carefully to my students’ pronunciation and grammar, so I can help them learn English well. After class, I write a report for the parents, so my students can review and prepare for their next lesson. 

In exchange for my hard work, I earn an hourly WAGE. I DESERVE every dollar that I EARN for my hard work. 

What would happen if I didn’t show up to teach my classes? What if I forgot to come to class? What if I slept through my classes?

Would I still get paid? Would I still earn by hourly wage if I didn’t work? Would I deserve to get paid if I didn’t work? Would I keep my job?

No, I wouldn’t. I would LOSE my job. I would be FIRED. 

So, what if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We understand. You had a hard week. You weren’t feeling well, and you were so busy. We like you so much that we will not fire you. You can keep working for us.”  This, my friends, is MERCY

Mercy means NOT getting what you DESERVE

Mercy means NOT getting what you have EARNED

Let’s try learning those sentences. First, I’ll say them slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat those sentences together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

Mercy means NOT getting punished when you’ve done something bad. Mercy is not getting fired when you don’t show up to work. 

What if I was a really bad worker? What if I played on my phone during class instead of teaching? What if I taught my students the wrong pronunciation and grammar?

Now, I should be FINED. I should be PUNISHED. I should get in TROUBLE. 

What if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We understand. You haven’t had enough training. You didn’t really know what you were doing. You aren’t in trouble. We like you so much. We will not punish you.” This, too, is MERCY. 

Mercy means NOT getting what you DESERVE. 

Mercy means NOT getting what you have EARNED. 

Let’s repeat those sentences together again. Now, I’d like three new people to try saying it by themselves.

Remember, Mercy means NOT getting punished when you’ve done something bad.

Now what if VIPKID said, “Oh, Kim. We love you so much that we hired a teacher to teach in your place. Teacher Beth has agreed to teach your classes for you. She will give YOU her pay. She will give you her hourly wage. She will give you what she earns. You will still get paid every week your hourly wage, because she will do your work for you, and give you what she deserves.”

This, my sisters, is GRACE. This is GRACE. Grace is GETTING what is NOT deserved … what is undeserved. Grace is GETTING what is NOT earned … what is unearned.

GRACE means GETTING what you do NOT DESERVE. 

GRACE means GETTING what you have NOT EARNED. 

Let’s try learning those sentences. First, I’ll say them slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat those sentences together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

GRACE means GETTING what you do NOT DESERVE. 

GRACE means GETTING what you have NOT EARNED. 

Grace is GETTING an A when you deserve an F. 

Grace is GETTING a hug when you deserve a slap.

Grace is GETTING heaven when you deserve hell.

Grace is getting kindness, goodness, favor, and love when you DESERVE punishment, anger, and wrath. 

Romans 4:4-5 tells us, “When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” 

God gives you righteousness, not because of your good deeds, but because of your faith in Jesus Christ who died in your place. God gives you Jesus’s righteousness. 

God takes Jesus’s perfect holiness and gives it to you, a sinner. Not because of anything that you DO, but because of your FAITH in Jesus.

In God’s great grace, He gives us His love. In God’s great grace, He gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord. 

Romans 6:23 explains that, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

God’s grace gives us His Holy Spirit and His Living Word. God’s grace gives us joy and peace and comfort. God’s grace gives us purpose and hope. 

The Bible is so FULL of stories of God’s mercy and grace.

One of these stories is about a poor servant who refused to have mercy on another servant, even though the king had shown him great, great mercy. You can read the whole story in Matthew 18:21-35, but I’m going to read you just one verse, Matthew 18:33. “Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'” 

Let’s try learning that verse together. First, I’ll say it slowly while you listen and watch. Then, we will repeat the verse together. Finally, I’d like three people to try saying it by themselves.

“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?'” 

Last week we talked about encouraging words – God encourages us with His Word and now we can encourage others … So, God gives mercy and grace to us and we can have mercy and grace to others.

This week you can read about the story of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35), the story of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

This week you can read Psalm 51, Ephesians 2:1-8 and Romans 5:1-11.

Try reading these stories in English and in Chinese. Try reading them aloud. Tell someone else about what you learned this week! You could even try making a video of yourself reading and share it with someone else.

Before we end, I want you share my favorite passage in the Bible with you. This is my favorite passage in the Bible because it describes my life. Paul wrote this about himself, but I feel like he was talking about me.

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. 

But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

— 1 Timothy 1:12-17 ESV

Let’s pray together and then we can talk about a few questions.

What are some ways that God has had mercy on you?

How has God given you His grace?

How can you give mercy and grace to someone else this week?

Encouraging Words

Last week I started teaching an international women’s group over the internet. I thought my notes from our lessons might be helpful to others, especially to international students of the Bible. Here are my notes from last Saturday. I chose to use the New Living Translation, rather than the English Standard Version like I usually use, because NLT is easier for those who are learning English as a second language. Feel free to share them or send me a private message!

Today I want to talk with you about encouraging words. Speaking encouraging words is something I would like to see within this women’s group, as well as in our homes, schools, communities, churches and jobs.

Ephesians 4:29b NLT,
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

 以 弗 所 書 4:29b  “却要适当地说造就人的好话,使听见的人得益处。”

Let’s work together on saying this Bible verse.

First, I want you to listen carefully while I say it.

  • Pay attention to how my voice rises and falls and how I put words together into phrases.
  • See how my hands and my voice tone help you to understand the meaning of the verse. Using hand motions and stressing words will help you to remember and understand the meaning of the verse.

Next, we will say this verse together.

Then, I will give each person a chance to try saying it by themselves.

Ephesians 4:29  “Let everything you say …. be good and helpful… so that
your words will be an encouragement …. to those who hear them.”

Now, let’s talk about the word ENCOURAGE. The word encourage comes from en + COURAGE…
“en” – to cause to have” + COURAGE!

In Matthew 14, we read about some of Jesus’s disciples who were on a boat in the middle of the night. There was a terrible storm, and the men were afraid. They were “terrified.” They were so scared because they were sitting in their boat far away from land in the middle of heavy waves in a storm.

Then, at 3 o’clock in the morning, Jesus walked out to them! When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 

“Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Matthew 14:27

耶稣立刻对他们说:“放心吧!是我,不要怕。”  马太福音 14:27 CNVS

Let’s try saying that verse now. First, I will say it by myself. Pay attention to my voice pattern and pronunciation.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

Now, let’s try it together:

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

I’d like to give everyone who hasn’t spoken yet a chance to try it first.

Jesus spoke to them at once … Don’t be afraid .. he said .. Take courage. …. I am HERE!

What do you think, “Take courage” means? Courage doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. Feeling afraid, feeling fear is a normal emotion that comes into your heart when you are facing a scary situation.

When you have courage, you are choosing to take heart, to overcome fear. Courage is choosing to do what is right, even when you feel afraid. Courage is choosing to say or do what you should even, when it’s scary.

Riding a chairlift
to the top of the Great Wall

Last year, my husband and I visited China for the first time. We stayed with a Chinese family that we had never met before. My husband and I don’t speak Chinese. It was scary to go to an unknown land, but God gave me courage through the Words of Scripture. I remembered when God called Abram to go to an unknown land. God promised that He would be with Abram and show him where to go.

While we were in China, we visited the Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu. Our friends got tickets for all of us to ride on a chair lift up to the Wall. I was so scared! I didn’t want to do it. My stomach was upset, and my hands were sweating, but my Chinese sister encouraged me with a sweet smile and kind words.

We, too, can help our friends, our husband and our children to have courage. We can help our coworkers and our students and even people we don’t know. We can help them by speaking encouraging words, by en-courage-ing them!

We can speak kind words, uplifting words, true words. We can remind them that God is WITH them, like Jesus said, “I am HERE!” We can remind them of God’s power and goodness. We can remind them that God has a special purpose for them.

I want this women’s group to encourage each other. We want to speak words of love, truth and kindness. We don’t want to cause others to fear, to discourage others!

Just as ENCOURAGE means to “give courage,” “to cause to take heart,” DISCOURAGE  (dis+courage)  means to “take away courage,” “to cause to lose heart!” Our words can either encourage others, or discourage others.

Don’t discourage anyone
who is making progress,
no matter how slow.

When I was a new believer in Jesus, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I didn’t know that the book of John was in the Bible. I didn’t know who Paul or Peter were. I didn’t know how to look for a verse in the Bible using chapter and verse numbers.

My mother-in-law encouraged me. She helped me and was patient with me. Her encouraging words gave me courage to learn and study, rather than discouraging me by pointing out how little I knew.

We are all climbing English Mountain together. Some of us can speak and read English very well, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can all help each other to climb to the next peak. You can help the person who is farther down on the mountain.

We are also all climbing Bible Mountain together. Some of us have lots of Bible knowledge, but some of us are still near the bottom of the mountain. We can also help each other to climb to the next peak. We can all help someone to climb to the next peak.

We can’t use a “chairlift” to reach the top of English Mountain or Bible Mountain. We all need to climb step by step, so let’s encourage one another as we do!

For more learning about encouragement, here are some Bible passages to read:

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25

“And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
Romans 15:4-7

2 Chronicles 30 is a great example of how the Lord encouraged the Israelites through Hezekiah’s encouragement.

To China with Love

I hope you enjoy the video I made of our trip to China. I know it’s a little long and I have a short attention span, but trying to condense 12 days of the most amazing trip ever to the most exotic place ever is a little hard. Imagine it’s 1.5 minutes per day and maybe you’ll understand!

If you’d like more information about teaching English online with VIPKID, please click my referral link here.