Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"This Grace Given"

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).
     Few believers have borne the weight of responsibility known by the Apostle Paul after his conversion.  Moreover, few have worked harder or suffered as he did to fulfill the calling of God.  Nevertheless, Paul referred to his life and ministry as a gift of grace, as "this grace given."  Moreover, he declared the same to be true for all God's trusting sons and daughters...

    "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).

     "Unto you it is given."  The difficulties we face in order to fulfill our Heavenly Father's will for our lives must be viewed in terms of gift rather than burden.  This requires a complete and ongoing change in our perspective.  Our fleshly inclinations inherited from Adam tempt us to respond to hardship with complaining resentment and discontent, as opposed to the truth that God greatly honors us by calling us to "suffer for His sake."  It often doesn't feel like it, of course, but if we are seeking to fulfill the responsibilities He clearly lays before us, the challenges we face therein are blessing rather than burden.  Or, in Paul's terms, they are "this grace given."

    When "I have to" dissolves in the light of Christ-motivated "I get to," God illuminates our hearts with His own vitality of life and existence.  "I get to live self-sacrificially for God's glory and the blessing of others... I get to take care of my family... I get to help others... I get to go to my job... I get to clean and care for our home... I get to love those who don't love me... I get to expend time and energy to fulfill my responsibilities... I get to exemplify and communicate Christ to others... I get to keep going when I seem at the end of strength and hope... I get to suffer for His sake."  The Lord Jesus lived with this holy sensibility of faith and awareness: "For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).  The same Christ now lives and walks in His trusting children to fill us with this same wondrous grace of joy known in challenge and difficulty (II Corinthians 6:16).

    Can the Lord Jesus form in us the awareness of "this grace given" regarding the responsibilities and sacrifices to which our Father calls us?   He can and He is working in us even in this moment to revolutionize and reorient our view of life and responsibility.  A growing awareness of "this grace given" provides "I get to" moments of glory throughout our lifetime as we realize the privileged calling to "walk even as He walked" (I John 2:6).   Every moment of life and eternity comes to us through the beneficence of the God who blesses us in both the pleasurable and the difficult with His own heart of "I get to."    "This grace given" declared the Apostle about a life of both blessedness and buffeting.  Let us, through Christ, declare it with him.

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
(Philippians 4:11-13)

Weekly Memory Verse
    I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.
(Psalm 138:2)

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