His Grace In Us!

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Pet. 3:18

If what we read about Jesus in the Bible is true, then Jesus had immeasurable grace. Yes, Jesus had grace. In fact, the Bible says, God the Father gave Jesus grace without measure (John 3:34).

Had Jesus been anywhere near as graceless as we are, He would of necessity have been holding disciplinary meetings every now and then with his disciples. Apart from the troublesome twelve apostles He had, there were others, 72 of them, who stuck ‘close’ to Him. Now, you would think they were close… until you look again. As long as there was bread, healing and all sorts of miracles about, these guys stayed close to Jesus. But such are a very dangerous bunch to have about. They had not understood what Jesus came to do because He had not made it clear enough to them. On the day that He did, they abandoned ship so fast Jesus did not even have the chance to say goodbye to them (John 6:66).

Apparently, the twelve apostles stayed. But it was these who would give Jesus the hardest time. For starters, there were the “Brothers Karamazov”, James and John, whom Jesus surnamed, “The sons of thunder” (Mk. 3:17). Which goes to show that Jesus had a sense of humor, for all those who think He was a piece of dry hardwood.

If Jesus called these guys “the sons of thunder”, they must have been my tribesmen. During the 1990s when I was working, someone in my office nicknamed me “The bomb”. Although saved, I was volatile and unpredictable. I simply could not get a handle on myself. I was so unpredictable I could not even predict myself. One time during a company meeting I stood up and called everyone “Philistines”. They never forgot that one.

Jesus had no shortage of incidents with these two hot-headed brothers. One time, as Jesus was walking towards Jerusalem (to be crucified), He passed through a village which did not give Him “respect”. Then, just like now, respect was a commodity that was sought after at all costs (especially by preachers). Apparently, in all the other villages that Jesus and his entourage had passed through, He had been received with pomp and ceremony and crowned with many crowns. The apostles James and John and all the other apostles were in high spirits and they were high-fiving each other as they watched all that glory unfolding around them.

Having fed on this feast of praise and worship, the two erstwhile right- (and left-) hand men of Jesus, James and John (and all the rest of them as well, of course) were ill-prepared to face the ignominy of being given the cold shoulder. When they therefore entered this little village and it became clear that the locals not only did not think much about Jesus respect-wise, but that they also did not want Him about their town, it was too much for them to handle. It was particularly so for the brothers who always had a keen eye for “respect”, glory and honor. They simply could not take the humiliation; they went ballistic. Off they went to Jesus and demanded that He allow them to call down fire from heaven to consume that little village as Elijah had done to some people under the old covenant.

But Jesus turned and rebuked them by telling them,

“55 …Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Lk. 9:55-56)

After which He turned and went to another village. Here Jesus taught them the cardinal law of grace that, if you have grace, you do not fight people. You forgive and move on with life.

It is laughable that, not too long a while ago, these same men, James and John, had gone incognito to see Jesus accompanied by their mother. This lovely family wanted Jesus to set the brothers on each side of the Lord in His glory. In His glory! Ha!

Even Jesus could not guarantee that. For any man to sit next to Him in His heavenly glory was too lofty a thought even for our Lord. But to get anywhere near there, He told them, they first would need to suffer in the flesh. They first had to shed all those pounds of flesh in order that they might carry the grace of God in them.

We all, just like James and John, want to sit with Jesus in His glory, don’t we? Well, we better check our grace levels first. And as for sitting next to Jesus in heaven, forget it. You can begin to think about it after you are dead and buried. Fact.

The gospel of Jesus is all about the grace of God in our lives. The Bible says that God is love. It does not say that He is a mega-church preacher or that He has any of the things that we love boasting in. But all that God is above everything else is that He is rich in grace. That is what the Bible means when it says God is love.

We are to be rich in grace. What is lacking with the church is not money, it is the grace of God.

God’s Word challenges you today to stop everything you are doing and get out there and begin crucifying your flesh. Don’t waste time looking at all the other things that God has apparently “blessed” you; watch out for His grace in your life.

[Grace is to carry other people’s burdens]

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A Mature Church Is Needed – Pt.2

There was a time when I did not want to hear such words. I wanted to remain in my comfort zone, safe in my ‘understanding’ that I had already passed from death into life. I hardly knew the depths of my rottenness and how much I needed that Cross to work in me!

I am made to understand that in some ‘developed’ countries there are laws against parents disciplining their children, either by beating them or otherwise. I thank God such a law has never applied in my life. When I was a kid growing up, there were no such laws either in my country, in my home, or anywhere close to me. I was beaten by my parents, my teachers and by any grown-up who felt I needed a beating. In that way, sense was beaten into me.

I have raised my kids in the same way. That modern ‘love’ stuff has never worked with my family. I love my kids, but not in that way, no sir! I prefer to be in the same league with God than with any baby, child, teen or whatever-rights-group. The Bible says about God and us: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb 12:6). Which basically means that if you do not do that sort of things with your kids you are in league with the devil. Believe it or not.

Now that my children are getting into their late teens I tell them, “If you never learned anything in this house, you will never learn it anywhere else!”

People want a light gospel; and they are getting tonnes of it today. Preachers are having a field day dealing out the easy charismatic gospel that has invaded the Church in recent times. This is a gospel that has nothing in it to confront the flesh. In fact, you tell Christians today that the flesh is a problem in the Church and that it needs to be crucified and they will tell you they are going to heaven by faith, not by works! Don’t judge, they say. If you become insistent you become their enemy. That was what happened to the Apostle Paul when he confronted the Galatian church (Gal. 4:16). They had turned back to their carnal, worldly ways and they did not want to hear anything that would confront them in that area.

I would want to tell you, though, that sin dwells in our flesh. There is no denying that fact. If you are the kind of Christian who has trouble with such statements, just stop right now and reflect on the fact that even your denial is a work of the flesh. It is true that Jesus died on the Cross to save us from our sins and to give us eternal life. But the Bible also says, …we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2Co 5:14-15). Jesus died so that we, too, would die. That’s what the Word is saying there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about dealing with sin through crucifying our carnal nature.

So much for the ‘bless-me’ gospels, which are actually enslaving Christians in perpetual babyhood. In fact, in this scripture, we are being told we need to move on from there. In other words, we need to hear something more solid than the ‘God-bless-me’ gospels. These kind of gospels will never deal with our carnal natures.

Anyone trying to belittle the power of sin in the flesh is effectively digging his/her own grave. The Apostle Paul never denied the fact that his flesh was a constant problem to him. He makes it abundantly clear that his real problem was the flesh. As a result, he did not simply preach the gospel; he crucified his body of sin. He constantly put it down and strove to completely do away with it. That is far removed from the goodie-goodie gospels we are hearing today of how God loves us and how He will see us all safely home. Yes, He will indeed see us safely home; but what responsibility have we? There are many things we do not know about that heavenly home. We could get there all right – and be unpleasantly surprised. The Bible says, “…And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1Jn 3:3).

It’s not like we are going to breeze into heaven by a faith that denies the working of the Cross in our lives. I believe we have an obligation to take to heart the many conditions that God attaches to His heavenly calling upon our lives.