KEYS TO THE KINGDOM - GRACE
Hello church! I hope everyone is well and at peace with God, others, and self. I realize that’s quite an opening statement mouthful especially in our world today, but remember there is a peace which passeth our understanding. And one of the gifts Jesus left us before He ascended to His Father was peace!
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Since Jesus left us such a wonderful gift, surely we ought to take advantage of it and gather some up for today. One of the best places to likely find His peace is in the local church. That’s because the church is the body of Christ and when we’re in Him, we are at peace. Most likely if we don’t have peace we are not as close to Jesus as we ought to be. Remember the Apostle Peter got into trouble because He tried to follow Jesus from a distance too far off. The hymn “Near to the Heart of God” captures the peace of the church when at rest and experiencing the quietness of sanctified satisfaction and congregational contentment.
Thank you for the peace you bring to SPBC. I know where it comes from, but still you’re willingness to share it makes all the difference. The scripture teaches us that iron sharpens iron and the church shows us that peace promotes peace. A parent who is peaceful and calm makes an agitated child settle down faster when upset about something. Even our pets seem to sense and differentiate between a peaceful spirit and an angry one. So you might say that peace is contagious. And it’s a good contagion too! When we come to church with peace, we come prepared to worship in spirit and in truth. You can see peace in a person’s eyes and it’s a miraculous message of God’s grace delivered without words. Having peace in our hearts is sort of like a smile in that if you smile, you likely cause others to smile as well.
You have responded to God’s blessings in material ways by giving your tithes and offerings and that is surely important and needful in the upkeep and on going of the church. But thank you too for responding to the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart by sharing His peace with us at SPBC! Several months ago, a man who was attending a funeral held at SPBC and who had served a local larger church in Statesboro for several years said to me during the meal in the fellowship hall, “This church is a light in this community.” Now that is a great compliment for any church. But a church cannot and would not be much of a light without people and people wouldn’t have much of a light without peace. I am thankful you have not hidden your peace under a basket or anything else. Jesus is the light of the world and the light we have is reflected from His. Jesus is also the Prince of Peace and the peace we have is because of His position of power and our position of grace. Let’s keep shining for Jesus and sharing His peace. God has given us a wonderful platform in which to do that — the church! And, God has also placed us in the perfect position to acknowledge it — Grace!
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I Peter 4:10
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. That means grace is what puts us in a position to receive God’s blessings and bear His fruit during our lives on Earth. We are in the kingdom of God right now although there is coming a greater, more per- fect kingdom whereby we’ll enjoy the literal reign of the King of Kings on a renewed and cleansed Earth. But for now, we have a foretaste of what’s to come, and it will be great! It’s why Jesus teaches us in the model prayer to pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6 :10
It’s surely an unmeasurable example of God’s goodness and mercy to put us in such a favorable position, given that we are all wicked, wretched sinners who deserve to spend eternity in hell. So, let’s show our appreciation to God for his grace by humbling ourselves before Him in love and faithfulness.
Grace is free! Grace cannot be and is not earned, purchased, or made by man. It’s like the rain from heaven in that it’s not manmade nor is it man controlled.
Grace is also like the rain because every time it rains, it’s a display of a miracle from God. One inch of rain dispersed over one acre of land weighs 113 tons.
God lifts that weight of water from the ocean and moves it to the land via air currents and weather patterns. Then, He drops it in droplets of soft, reviving and life sustaining water on a thirsty earth and drooping plants. That’s sort of how God sends us grace too, except instead of the ocean, it is lifted from the cross through the power of the resurrection and carried to us via the Holy Spirit rather than air currents. Then, because of God’s patience and lovingkindness, grace falls silently and soaks into even the unseen crevices of our needy, desperate and broken hearts.
In considering grace as this month’s key for the kingdom, I would like to focus on the means which God provides us to have His grace. Means can be defined as an action or system by which a result is brought about. A means is a method! For example, if you had a wonderful job opportunity in a nearby town, you would need a “means” to get to the job. Or, it might be that you could do the work from your home without physically going to work, but even then, you would need an internet connection or some media method to connect and contribute. Well, in God’s kingdom, we have been chosen to work for the Father in His kingdom on Earth. The Lord Jesus, our Saviour and example, was more concerned about His Father’s business than anything else.
“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:49
Kingdom business is important business because it’s God’s business! Grace is how God does business and the first thing God does with grace is save us by it. In other words, God puts us in business, His business, with grace. God’s kingdom mission statement is Heaven and immortal glory and He provides all the means necessary to get us there. You would think with a mission statement like that, the route would be smooth and the going easy. But that is not the case at all, even though God promises a sure and safe landing, He does not take all the bumps and curves out of the ride. However, He does provide a method of mercy to get us there. One of the problems we all have in this kingdom of God is that often God wants us to be somewhere and do something more than we want to be there or to do that. So, He uses irresistible grace to get us where He wants us. God’s grace is so powerful it causes a spiritually dead sinner to stand up for Jesus.
“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved.).” Ephesians 2:5
The kingdom life on Earth for a saved by grace sinner is an alien life in that grace changes our desires and perspective and we find ourselves strangers now on Earth. We realize this world is not our home even though we try to run on the same fuel. Our engine (our heart), has been miraculously converted by grace to hate sin and love godliness.
Our journey to Heaven would be flat out floundering were it not for God providing us a means of travel which is both strengthening and comforting. We can be sure that our Heavenly Father will provide for and enable us to do everything He has ordained in our job description here while we’re on the way there.
The Holy Bible is the word of God and it is a most precious means of His grace. Our faith is directly proportional to how much of the word of God we take in. The more Bible we read, the more truth we know, the more meaningful will be our walk with Jesus. After all, we know faith pleased God and He wants us to walk by it, and work with it too. The Bible will keep us away from sin, else sin will keep us away from the Bible. God has given us His word to use as a means of growing in grace and getting closer to Him. This sinful world we live in is full of deadly mine fields set deceptively by the devil himself. The word of God guides us through these dangerous places and prevents a lot of destruction and heartbreak. And, since the kingdom of God is also a kingdom of light, it’s important to know we have a light to deal with the devil’s temporary kingdom of darkness.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
The church, and in particular the local church is a means of God’s grace. The word church means “called out,” and every child of God has been called out of nature’s darkness and the bondage of sin and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This calling is a grace call, and anytime believers can assemble publically in spirit and in truth the kingdom of God will be at hand.
The local church provides the preaching of the gospel and the power of the crucified Lord Jesus humbly motivates true Christians to follow Jesus no matter if the going gets tough. The ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord’s supper are both practiced in the church and are reminders of the necessity of faith and obedience as well as what it took for us to know the means of God’s grace. When believers assemble together it is a powerful witness of grace because of a revelation from God. Yes, the church is the means or the method God supplies for us to worship Him publically.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
How could we do anything in God’s kingdom without prayer? Likewise, how could we do anything in God’s kingdom without grace? The key to the power of prayer is grace! When we pray the kind of prayers that God hears, we do it because God’s grace is prompting us to do it. Although God knows all of our needs and burdens already, His vehicle for supplying all we need and easing our hurts is prayer! The goodness of God leads us to repentance and the grace of God leads us to prayer and prayer leads us in the paths of righteousness.
“Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” II Chronicles 7:15
Jesus promised us that we would have problems and trouble in this life. Grace is really the only way we can make it through this maze of madness, but indeed we will make it, because the God of all grace has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We can cross every intersection of trouble because we are holding God’s hand, rather He is holding ours. We are gripped with His grace, but we need problems to tighten that grip. Problems keep us humble and God likes us to be so. Problems are also necessary to bring God glory by showing off His powerful grace. Actually, the grace of God is so beneficial dur- ing our days on Earth, that should we come to a fork in the road of life and either fork would be the right way, but one fork’s way was harder going with more problems, that’s the fork we should take! A broken heart keeps us close to God and most likely when our pocket books are empty, our hearts will be full of grace. God not only allows U-turns should we go the wrong way, He also causes them by problems.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray. But now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119:67
The means of grace cited in this newsletter article are by no means all there are. One thing is important for all of the methods and vehicles of grace God provides and that is that we commit totally to them. If someone offered us a ride in their car and we left the door open when we got in the vehicle or let one leg and foot drag on the road, it would probably end up being a pretty rough trip. We are going to the best place and we’ve been given a righteous pace - grace!