Grace removes our right to complain. I have never lived a single day without wanting to complain about something. Between the brokenness in myself and the brokenness in the rest of the world, I have more than enough things to get upset about throughout each day. Brokenness is a sickness. It is a cancer. But it’s the one cancer whose cure I have found. Grace is the cure. Every time I choose grace over complaining I am treating my cancer with the cure. Where there would be decay there is life instead.
“You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” – Psalm 56:8
In giving up my right to complain, I am not saying that my problems and struggles are unimportant. I am only realizing that they are even more important to my Father in heaven. Why worry and struggle with those things when my Father is there to help me? A good father has a special connection with his children. He is more concerned for their well-being than even they bother to to be concerned themselves. My Father is well aware of what I am going to face today both inside and outside of myself, and He has more than enough grace to cover it all.
One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
– Proverbs 27:7
This makes me think of everything Jesus said about the kingdom of God. He made HUGE promises about how incredible His kingdom would be. He stirred hearts when He spoke of these things. He wanted to make us hungry for the kingdom. Why? What happens when we’re truly hungry for the kingdom of God to come? When we truly hunger for God’s kingdom everything we receive from the Lord – even the bitter things – is sweet! It changes how we live in this moment. Not tomorrow. Not when we’re old. Right now. It changes us now and every moment that we stay hungry from here on out. If there is one kind of people the Church needs, it’s hungry people. The Church needs people that are unsatisfied with how things are right now. In that longing for more we find contentment in the moment. That’s one of the mysteries of the Christ.
There is a struggle in war – your life is on the line. Your senses are heightened. You have to be alert. In war you always have an enemy. His mission is to take you down and most likely…kill you. In war you also have allies. This is incredibly important to remember! War makes things necessary that otherwise wouldn’t feel so necessary. Dying to ourselves so that Christ can live in us seems so much more necessary when we step back and take a look at the war that we are caught up in. Keeping your fellow fighters close to you becomes a need far more than just a luxury when you realize the nature of this war.
Just a few moments ago, I contacted two of my close friends. They are my brothers in Christ, my brothers-in-arms. I had just shared the Gospel with someone and immediately felt an evil presence. I knew what it was and where it came from, so I spoke the name of Jesus Christ, rebuking it and sending it away. But it didn’t leave. I couldn’t shake this feeling of chaos and tension that it was causing. I wasn’t scared (because He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world), but I couldn’t focus well. I grabbed my phone and fired off a text to each of my friends, giving them the run-down of what was happening and asking for prayer. Both of them started praying immediately and peace settled in over the chaos. The presence left.
Thanks to my brothers and Jesus who sticks closer than a brother, I live another day in victory and the enemy suffers at my expense!
The kingdom of God is the most exclusive thing in the world. There is only one way into it. Nobody gets in through any other entrance. No amount of wealth, power, or personal goodness can get you into it. There is only one Way.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – Jesus [John 14:6]
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus [Matthew 7:21]
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. – Jesus [Matthew 10:32-33,40]
We are called to live in the Kingdom in the same way by which we were received into it – exclusively. Our life on planet Earth should be a testimony to the name of Christ. We should be living exclusively for Jesus. That One Way, One Truth, and One Life deal didn’t end once we joined God’s kingdom. That was just the beginning of forever! A disciple always walks in the Way of Christ, always trusts in Christ as the only Truth, and always hopes in Christ as the only real Life. Disciples who have been crucified with Christ no longer live exclusively for themselves. They live exclusively for Christ!
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:16-20
Our mission is the same mission that Christ had. He came to restore people to God. Their view of God was tainted by evil so Jesus came to set them free of their misconceptions. He did not do this through manipulation. He did it through reconciliation. To reconcile means to restore to a right relationship. You cannot simply hear about God and have it all make sense. You have to meet Him. Words cannot save someone because words did not pay the ransom for their sin. Jesus did. So in order to save them, Jesus needs them to meet Him face-to-face. Our mission is to bring people to Jesus any way that we can. They will not be able to understand biblical doctrine or the mysteries of God until they have been restored to Christ. Do not let them bypass Christ and, instead, complain about their confusion towards the Bible or their dislike of hypocritical Christians. Put them in a room with Jesus and leave it to them to decide if they want to stay there and meet Him or leave before He has the chance to speak to them. It is not you they might reject nor is it just the Bible. It is ultimately Jesus that they reject. Hell is for those who reject Christ so it is very important that we make sure they come face-to-face with Him. Because of the Lord’s grace towards us, we owe our fellow man the truth about God. We must make sure that they fully understand Who Jesus is before they reject Him. Hopefully, they won’t turn away once they really meet Him.
Paul ends his imploring to his readers with the final comment: “On behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Every day you and I need to be reconciled to God – reminded of the cross and the grace bestowed upon us. If we stray from Christ, how can we properly sit under His yoke and bear His burden? We cannot live in the urgency of the Gospel without reconciliation. We cannot properly share the Gospel unless we do it as a ministry of reconciliation.
Our ministry is not the ministry of manipulation. It is the ministry of reconciliation. This is a ministry of patience and wisdom. It is a ministry of surrender. Before you ever preach the Gospel, you need to surrender your hearers to the Lord. You need to say this in your heart, “It is not me that is going to win their heart, Lord. It’s You. I am just the echo of Your voice. I am just the servant. You are the Master. Go get ’em, Lord!“
The poor man pleads, but the rich answer roughly.
– Proverbs 18:23
The only wealth in the kingdom of God comes from God. Knowing that it is His and not mine humbles me. It shows me how poor I am apart from the Lord. I am a poor man. It is the realization of my poverty that brought me to the feet of Jesus. My empty pockets became the compass that led me to riches of His grace. I must not forget the poor man that I am lest I presume to be rich and answer others roughly. It was Jesus who taught me how to plead the Gospel. He shows me daily how to make myself nothing, how to reach a humble place by becoming obedient. It is obedience to the Lord that keeps me sharing the Gospel and it is my poverty that keeps me pleading with others for the sake of the Gospel instead of yelling at them.
Father, if I am not poor, how can I need Your riches? If I am not poor, how can I be wise with my words? If I am not poor, how can I truly demonstrate the love of Christ? Let me be a poor man pleading to the end of my days.
It must not be my feelings that define me. It must not be my thoughts or my ability to reason that define me. My family, my nation, and my culture cannot be the things that define me. It surely cannot be my victories or my defeats that define me. All of these are but shadows, flitting shapes cast by the immovable Person, Jesus Christ.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…” – Colossians 1:15-22
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
– John 15:5
It is in Christ that I find my true definition. It is His love and His calling that must define me. In Christ I am a new creation, ripped from the shadows and reformed in the light and likeness of Christ.