God’s grace transforms our hearts as it flows to us through the means of grace. In the past two days of blog posts we have seen how prayer and the Word of God are channels of God’s grace and power. Now we see from 1 Peter 4:10 that grace flows to us in community. What do we learn from this passage about the community of grace?
In Paul’s farewell words to the Ephesian church in Acts 20, he knew of the demands that would surely press in upon them, to wear down their faith and steal their joy. So he commended them to God, and to the “word of his grace,” which would be able to build them up and strengthen them. The word of grace is one of the means by which God floods our hearts with his favor.
The same King who answers our prayers for the advance of the gospel is also attentive to our personal needs. Even today we are all in a “time of need.” How encouraging that we can receive mercy and grace from the throne of grace!
When Jesus says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold I am making all things new,” He’s not talking about the kind of "new" that replaces the old. Bible scholars have pointed out that every time the writer of Revelation, John, uses that word "new", he’s not referring to something fundamentally different, but to the restoration of something that has fallen apart.
So our belief in God’s sovereignty actually invigorates our evangelism as we cling to God’s promises: He has sheep from other pastures and his sheep will know his voice and will follow Him (John 10). God is the giver of Life! He has promised that there will be a great multitude from every tribe and tongue and people (Revelation 7). Trusting in these promises, we, his disciples, can step into seemingly hopeless lands with bold hope and with confidence that our labor is not in vain.
I think Jesus is talking about more than geography in this final charge to his disciples. In the book of Acts we read about Jesus’ followers living as witnesses—not only across geographic boundaries, but across social and cultural boundaries. When you read this verse in that light, it becomes incredibly relevant.
Lawyers argue. Witnesses testify. They testify to what they have seen, what they have experienced. Certainly good arguments have their place (see 1 Peter 3:15); we need to be ready to defend what we believe. But the job title Jesus gives us before he ascends to Heaven is that of Witness.
God’s blessing was never meant to be only for a few. In His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, God said, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God did not intend his message of salvation to be only for Israel or Judea. He intended His salvation to reach the ends of the earth: to Spain, to England, even to the “New World.”
So what will make the nations glad? The scriptures are clear that the nations (all people) will be joyful and fulfilled when we worship the creator. It is for our good that God wants us to delight in the One who can bring us true joy. We were created for his glory, and when we reject the idols around us and embrace him, we will be glad.
This gospel story would be “preached among the nations” and Jesus would be “believed on in the world.” Our lives in Orlando might feel small, and we might even feel helpless in a chaotic world. But our story has a meaningful place in God’s plan.
As followers of Christ, we believe that it is only the Great Physician that can bring ultimate healing to the people of Orlando and to our great city. Let’s pray to that end.
Our idols are not made of marble, but we are just as guilty of placing created things on the thrones of our hearts. What idols does your heart hold dearly? We cannot expect restoration in the city, full of folks who do not know Him, until our own hearts yearn for the Father.
When we look at the world around us, imagine the difference a generation of Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, and gospel-driven young people could make in our city, nation, and world. God is at work among these future leaders and we have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives through our prayers.
In an age where a quick tweet or Facebook post allows us to offer a critique of our leaders, God’s Word instructs us to instead pray for them. The role of the Christian is to lift up our leaders—spiritual, civic, or otherwise—before the God who sees all and knows all.
It’s been said that work is the gracious expression of creative energy in the service of others. Your work matters to God! Redefine your boss and then do your work whole heartily, as unto the Lord!
May we be reminded today of His enormous generosity in Christ Jesus. Every way that He has made us rich—community, love, time, resources, finances, giftedness, job, family, ministry—we in turn may be rich in our generosity on every occasion to the glory and thanksgiving of God. May we at LBC be a generous people who have hands opened wide with His good gifts.
We each have the opportunity to serve others in our community. Whether it’s picking up trash in our neighborhood, volunteering at a local school, serving with a local ministry that cares for the under resourced or joining a once/month team at LBC, we can model God’s love for others through the way we serve them. It might cost us a little time and possibly a little sweat, but the eternal difference our service can make is worth it.
The truth is that when God saves young people, it is not for them to sit around and wait until they’re ‘old enough’ to do something for the Kingdom, but that each young person has the potential to set the example in faith and devotion to those around them.
The Kingdom is not just for grown-ups, for those who have their lives and acts together. Christianity is the most inclusive movement the world has ever seen. CEOs and custodians, lawmakers and criminals, doctors and invalids, PhD’s and people with special needs, singles and married couples, locals and internationals… and yes, little children.
In the short-term, sanctification can easily be a discouraging process. Sin’s influence in our lives is deeply ingrained and won’t easily be defeated. However, this is where the great hope of the gospel comes into play. Paul tells us in Philippians that God will be faithful to finish the good work he began in us.