Working in the Time of Grace

Working in a Time of Grace

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‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 

Matt. 20:12, NIV

 

Matthew 20 often irritates us.  People are working the entire day, and along comes people who have only worked for one hour.  This discrepancy drives the believer nuts.  How in the world could such a thing take place?  It is foolishness to us who insist on a grace of appropriateness.  We want grace to be fair, recognizing the person who has worked very hard.

The problem is that God is outrageous with His grace and love.  He completely expands us to a point where we must embrace a grace that is completely beyond us.  We have to break down and accept what is available to us.  Grace completely dumps us upside down.  We can only proceed if we accept His definition of Grace.

Those who have labored the least are made equal to those who work the hardest.  This seems incredibly unfair and we revolt against such extravagance.  It strikes us as outrageously unfair.  How can those who worked only an hour receive the exact same amount as those who have labored a full eight?

The miracle of  this shockingly outrageous grace is that we are confronted by a profound freedom.  We basically get brought to the point where we get stripped of these illusions and need to walk out the scripture.  It has the tendency to eliminate the issues that could block us and bring us to a most receptive position.

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:13-16

We must admit that God’s grace reaches out to everyone. 

That He has the deep, deep desire to see that each of us connect with His love.  This is indeed the radicalness of the gospel.  It is outrageous and astonishing.  That He would love us who have hated Him.  Our sense of equity is completely undone.  His grace completely turns us upside down. I think that is a good thing.

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Low Sodium Christians

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”

Luke 14:34

 Our distinctiveness for God is first evident in our communication.  The way we talk is the primary way we share; and it’s in the tone we use, the inflection of our voices, the vocabulary we utilize, and the way we articulate.  And all of this is communicated in just a few seconds of time.

We should be aware that when we say something it is instinctively and instantly examined. People, deep within want to know its veracity and authenticity.  But the above list is lacking one vital thing– grace, pieces of it, that break off and sprinkles all over our words and thoughts.  We added it all to our conversations, like salt on ‘french fries’.  This takes a ministry of grace, and we ourselves are made into a direct witness.

But not everyone of us is articulate, or gifted to speak.  But we are all salty!  Each of us has a savory presence of grace.  Every believer has it.  I’ve gotten to know two deaf brothers at my church.  They are sometimes neglected and avoided.  (But I think that is just fear.)  They use a ‘sign language‘ with gestures and hand motions.  They are actually quite articulate.  One of the young men has an opening door to Russia to do evangelism.

I guess I’m a bit taken aback by this.  A man who cannot hear or speak being used by the Holy Spirit in this way.  He jokes about being the ‘first evangelist to the deaf community in Russia’.  He is an inspiration to me.  My issue is with mental illness.  But handicapped people do quite well, they are particularly ‘salty’ and you’ll notice the difference.

Learning to communicate with grace is a lot like learning any foreign language.  My wife and I went to learn Spanish at an institute.  We learned so much I felt I was leaking out my ears.  Learning to speak “Grace” will be a challenge as well.  But we have the promised Holy Spirit.  He is the Helper.  He will show how to speak with grace to every person and situation.

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Is it Wrong to Get Angry with God?

Evangelist Billy Graham

Interview with Dr. Billy Graham

Q: Is it wrong to get angry at God?

I’ve beten through some very hard times recently and I feel like God has let me down. I’d like to get past this, I guess, but right now I can’t help feeling angry at God.

A: The real question is this: Will God get angry at you if you get angry at Him, and refuse to have anything more to do with you?

The answer is “No”! Even when we’re angry at Him, He still loves us and yearns for us to turn to Him for the comfort and encouragement we need. And that’s what I pray you will do.

jonah-sulkingDo you remember the prophet Jonah in the Old Testament? Some have called him “the reluctant prophet,” because he tried to flee when God called him to preach to his enemies. Later (after God sent a large fish to stop his flight), he reluctantly obeyed God and preached to his enemies. To his surprise they repented and turned to God.

He should have rejoiced – but instead “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 4:1). Gently God explained to him that He loved even Jonah’s enemies – and so should Jonah. What is the point? Simply this: Jonah was angry at God – but God didn’t reject him. Instead, Jonah needed to learn to trust God, even if he didn’t like what was going on.

Perhaps this is one of the lessons God wants to teach you. Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. But God still loves us; He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die for us. Put your life into Christ’s hands, and then ask God to help you begin to trust Him, no matter what happens to you.

 


 Affectionately known as the “World’s Preacher” for more than 60 years, the Rev. Billy Graham is one of the most influential and respected spiritual leaders of the 20th century. He has been a friend and spiritual advisor to ten American presidents and has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history — nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories — through various meetings. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

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Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:  http://www.billygraham.org.

Beyond Worship

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“But I will sing about your strength. In the morning I will sing about your love. You are my defender, my place of safety in times of trouble. God, my strength, I will sing praises to you.        God, my defender, you are the God who loves me.”

Psalm 59:16-17, NCV

I’ve always considered singing as strange.  To vocalize with music as a bit bizarre.  The dictionary doesn’t clarify it, but makes it even stranger,

“to utter words or sounds in succession with musical modulations of the voice; vocalize melodically.”
 
And yet from this strangeness, David can find a solid reason to sing.  At this time in David’s life, things are quite tense.  Saul has been focussed on him, and has come very close to pinning David down.  I’m sure David is struggling with anxiety, doubt and despair.  And yet, it is from these considerable issues that David starts singing.
A precedent has been set.  Singing while in deep water.  The song has a theme and direction.  David sings about God.  He sings about His strength, and love, and protection.  I suppose if you are walking through an evil mob– it is really good to be watched over, and to be securely protected is very much appreciated.
When evil is immense and active, our first response should be to sing.  When we direct ourselves toward the Lord, and begin to sing to Him, the enemy scrambles for cover.  Worship scares him.  Satan is confused and frightened when we start to praise our God.  (I tend to think he has an allergy.)
I consider myself to be pragmatic and logical.  There are things I see right through.  Pyramid schemes, Nigerian banking plans, and multilevel marketing are things that are discernible to me.  But this particular Psalm punches through, and I confess I have come to understand this extraordinary power of worship.  When I decide to worship, all heaven breaks loose.
Often, I think, we can “sugar-coat” worship, and make it for feeling good about ourselves.  And yet when we do come into His presence, it is a joy and there is peace for us.  And this is terrific.  But we should reformat our thinking.
Worship is warfare.  As we stand and praise Him, the kingdom of Satan is substantially degraded and minimized.  Worship does this and more. It is an offensive weapon against dark forces. It is a defensive weapon to protect our minds.
Satan fully hopes that we will forget this idea of worship, he strategizes actively against it.  It frightens him when we start to understand.  Worship of the True God drains Satan of his power and authority.  Perhaps sinners truly become kings and queens when we start to praise our God. And that doesn’t sit well with the darkness.
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