The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
My dear friend John Canning will soon retire as pastor of a local church in our area where he will have served for 54 years in the position.
Yes, you read that correctly. 54 years as pastor of one fellowship of believers. This speaks to a faithfulness beyond imagining, a fact with which John would completely agree. Yes, my friend's tenure speaks to God's faithfulness beyond imagining. John well knows and has long preached that any faithfulness found in us proceeds from the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us. This does not preclude our response of faith and submission, of course, and John serves as a shining example of receiving grace in a manner that has led him to more than a half century of service to God and people.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
This leads me to share one of my favorite statements made by John in a sermon many years ago.
"There are really only two religions in the world, grace and works. But only grace works."
Yes, God's grace in the Lord Jesus works in providing freely given forgiveness, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted. Grace works in spiritually birthing a new creature in all who believe, "created in righteousness and true holiness." Grace works in bestowing the living presence of God in all who believe, through the gift of the Holy Spirit to our hearts in the moment of our new birth. Grace works in the power of the Spirit leading, motivating, and enabling us to walk in faith and faithfulness through His working in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Grace works in providing necessary discipline if we wander from the path of righteousness. Grace works in ensuring that whether by rapture or physical death, the believer will not journey alone when we pass from this life. Grace works in assuring us of a glorious eternity in the perfectly bestowed and realized presence of our blessed Lord. Most of all, grace works in revealing the love of God to us, within us, and through us for the glory of the Lord Jesus as He dwells and walks in us (Ephesians 1:7; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:6; Psalm 23:4; I Thesslonians 4:17; II Corinthians 6:16).
In my friend John's case, grace works by empowering a remarkably lengthy term of faithful service, aided by his wife Connie, who no less served God and people by serving as John's abiding help, encouragement, and confidant. Yes, grace works. I heard a man say these words many years ago. And I have watched him live their truth for a long, long time. Godspeed, my Brother and Friend. How God has blessed so many because you have known the grace of His faithfulness, and have reflected it so very well.
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
Weekly Memory Verse
Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.