It Pleased Them!

25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. Rom. 15:25-26

This morning, my mind is on the subject of giving – again! The scripture above tears at my heart.

First aways, notice the singular form of ministry mentioned in this scripture. It is the ministry of giving to the poor. It is not stated that Paul went to preach in Jerusalem. The purpose of his journey to Jerusalem was to deliver the Gentile churches’ contribution to the poor saints there. Whether he preached or not is not our subject here.

But the thing that sends my heart racing with excitement is the second part of this passage of the Bible. The Bible says it pleased the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to make a contribution for the saints in Jerusalem.  It pleased them! Wow, the beauty of that!!

There is nothing as beautiful as something that is done from the heart. It is so powerful it reaches the ureachable parts of the heart. For this reason, the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

God loves a cheerful giver!

God loves things that are done with a willing heart. God loves a purposeful heart. To demonstrate this, God has even taken people who were terrible sinners and changed them and put them to serve Him mightily. They were men and women who were willing to do things from the heart. Chief amongst these is the Apostle Paul himself (1 Tim. 1:13-16).

No man in their right minds loves things that are half-done. With God, it is infinitely much less so.

As believers, we are to do things heartily. When you give, give heartily. Don’t allow your mind to pick nits and bits. Above all, do not count how many times you have given in the past. Give as if you have never given before!

In the same manner, when you forgive (for we are called to forgive whenever someone wrongs us) do so with a hearty heart. Don’t weigh the wrongs! Above all, do not count the former wrongs done to you by the person you are supposed to forgive.

Whatever we do, we are to do it heartily. In Ephesians 6:5-8, the Apostle Paul writes:

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

Notice verse 6. Whether bond or free, we are to do things

“from the heart”!

From the heart. That’s not talking of any old heart. Rather, scripture here is talking of a willing and cheerful heart.

Seeing Into God’s Kingdom – Part 2

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 2 Cor. 8:1-5

In every epistle that Paul wrote, he reminded the churches of what they first saw in the Spirit. As the prime example of one who had adhered to the revelation of the gospel in his heart, Paul, speaking to King Agrippa, said,

“Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

Paul obeyed the heavenly vision that God had given him! What a grace!!

But the heavenly vision that Paul saw was the same vision that the churches had seen through Paul’s preaching – the crucified Christ and the spiritual riches connected with His resurrection – and it was this same vision that he was beseeching them to obey.

In the Kingdom of God we cannot talk about money, nor material wealth. As important as we often tend to think these things are, yet they do not constitute the spiritual riches that God wants us to know of and to possess. It is due to our fleshly weakness that we put so much emphasis on these things. But you could be a billionaire believer here on earth and yet be a pauper in God’s Kingdom.

This is made abundantly clear in our key scripture here through the example of the Macedonian church. Notice they were in “deep poverty”. Do you know what it means to be in deep poverty? Coming from Africa, I do. If you go to the small neighborhood shops particularly in the poorer sections of town during the evening and just hang about, you will hear wonders. You will hear (mostly) women and children buying… half a kilogram of maize flour (which is probably for the entire family six to ten souls); a quarter kg. of sugar; etc. Things like bread are an unbelievable luxury. In fact, much more bread goes stale in some of these shops than is sold. I lived in one such neighborhood and not one shop sold margarine. Such things are unheard of. That is why when you are trying to take a photo in such places and you tell people to say “Cheese!” they will look at one another in perplexion instead. They don’t know what cheese is – and it is not a matter of not understanding the language.

Now, normally when we hear such tales, we feel sorry and we wring our hands in agony because we can’t imagine the sufferings that these poor people are going through. But in the Spirit, we cannot feel sorry for ourselves simply because we do not have cheese to eat. Nor can we say we are suffering because we are financially poor. On the contrary, we suffer in the Spirit when we do not have the grace of God. The sorriest mess of a person in the Kingdom of God is the man or woman who does not have God’s grace in their lives. He/she suffers and God also suffers or grieves in His heart.

That is why, although the Macedonians were dirt poor, they did not feel sorry for themselves, nor did they allow Paul to feel sorry for them. They were upbeat because they were rich in the Spirit. They told Paul, “Paul, we are sticking to the revelation of the gospel that you brought us!” In fact, these guys were so rich – so rich in grace – that they turned the tables on poverty.

They went ahead and brought out the riches of the grace of God that was in their hearts. So much so that Paul was overwhelmed. And when we say that Paul was overwhelmed, it is a given that God was also overwhelmed. For Paul followed Christ; he was a faithful representation of God’s grace and God’s character.

So, therefore, the Macedonians first “gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God”. The abundance of God’s grace in them enabled them to do this. After they gave their own selves, through that same grace, they then gave of their material possessions and finances “beyond their power”!

We are not talking about good people here. We are talking about people who broke through into God’s Kingdom and possessed their inheritance, God’s grace. God’s grace comprises His spiritual riches.

I will end here because one could not possibly write enough about the Macedonians.

But we cannot help noticing that as the Macedonians were exercising the grace of God by giving their lives, the Corinthians, who were much more affluent, were holding tight onto their purses. They had promised Paul that they would give to the poor saints in Jerusalem and a whole year had gone by without even a dime given! Now Paul had to send Titus once again to try and pry some money from them!! Incredible.

May God give us the grace to see into His Kingdom and to partake of His spiritual riches, His grace.

Persecution and Grace – Part 2

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 2 Cor. 8:1-4

I never cease to marvel at the grace that was given to the Macedonian church. It is, simply, indescribable. That is why we cannot say, ever, “Enough talk about these Macedonians!” I am sure their story will echo on into eternity.

The area of giving is one area in which nearly all of us struggle. The issue of giving is a real problem with many of us. Normally, when someone asks us for money or some material thing (but mostly money, since money is the god of this world), our immediate knee-jerk reaction is to feel something akin to an invasion. There is a certain privacy about our material possessions that we don’t like people intruding into.

But that is the flesh. When we are walking the road that Jesus walked, these attitudes are the kind of things that we battle against in the Spirit. And it is when we achieve victory over such attitudes that we can experience the joy of giving. In those rare – or not-so-rare – moments when God touches our hearts and we allow the grace of God to have its way in us, we receive that very rare blessing of giving freely and joyfully, and we come away much more fulfilled in our spirits.

But with these Macedonians there was so much grace in their lives that they gave as if with a primeval instinct – in other words, with a power that was not of this world.

Some time ago I read about some people in England or the U.S. (I can’t remember clearly where) who engaged in bitter brawls as they fought to buy discounted goods in shopping malls.

The Macedonians did the exact opposite. They fought to give! I believe it is not that they did not need the things that they were giving away, but they were overcome with compassion for their brothers in need. And, having an enlarged heart, they saw this as an opportunity to make very good use the power of the grace of God in their lives.

The Macedonian example is an illustration of the extremities to which God’s grace can take us. That these people had literally nothing; but when they heard that their brothers were undergoing a period of want, they gave out their hearts. “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

That is a heart that we all need to have.

There are people who love talking about tithing. But in tithing one is trying to give to God in quotas! Can you imagine giving to God in quotas? It is the most tiresome exercise in the world.

And, pray, can you imagine trying to tell the Macedonians about tithing? At the very least, they would have regarded you with of utter confusion in their eyes! How can you talk to someone who has given away everything about now giving a percentage?

The Macedonians were so rich in grace that the ‘lesson’ of tithe would have have flown right over their heads.

But notice also that all this was accomplished at the time that this church was going through a period of “great trial of affliction” and “deep poverty”. It was in these difficult circumstances that their faith was tried and refined to produce these extremely fine examples of Christian-ity.

Whether through persecution or not, when we take the road that Jesus took – denying self, taking up our cross daily and following Him – we will always come up with this kind of life – a life of incredible grace.

[The Macedonians rejoiced greatly at the opportunity to give]

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A Contrast – the Corinthian Church

This post stems from Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.

Do you know what “contrast” means? For our purposes, let us use the word which my computer’s Thesaurus provides me with here, “dissimilarity”. In this post I want us to see how dissimilar the Corinthian church was to the Macedonian churches.

Talking of prosperity, let me point out at the very outset that at the time of Paul’s writing, the Macedonian churches were the richest entity on the face of the earth. At their time these were the richest people in the world. No earthly conglomerate existing today could boast even a whiff of the wealth that these churches had.

But, of course, it was wealth of a different kind altogether that these people had. It was the true heavenly riches, the riches of a gracious heart. It could well be that there were other equally spiritually rich churches, but we have no need to speculate.

But at the same time that these Macedonians were exhibiting such riches of the grace of God in their lives through their liberality, the Corinthian churches were exhibiting the exact opposite through their stinginess! I am sure that had the Corinthians been half as generous as the Macedonias were, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 might never have been written!!

The Bible clearly says that the Macedonians were poor in worldly riches. But it does not say the Corinthians were poor. Nowhere does it indicate that these guys were anywhere near poor materially. On the contrary, history is replete with accounts of how rich the Corinthians were!

Moreover, after granting them salvation, God graciously blessed the Corinthian churches with every kind of spiritual gift. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7: 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift…”

This church was bristling with the gifts of the Spirit, so much so that Paul even had to write and put order in that church with regard to the usage of these gifts! (1 Corinthians 14)

But alas! this church lacked the most important gift – the grace of God. It is incredible, but true. You can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and still lack in the most important gift of all, the gift of the grace of God upon your life. It is a contradiction of terms, but it certainly did occur with the Corinthians.

This fact manifested it self in their lives in the following manner: these guys had been promising – indeed, they had bound themselves – to give a financial gift, a certain amount of money, for the poor saints in Jerusalem. And yet, for a whole year, they had not parted with a single cent!

The Bible says that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. We can have every kind of spiritual gift working through us but still lack in the most important gift, the gift of the grace of God upon our lives. In today’s spiritual context, we highly regard men who work the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are so enamored with the manifestations of these gifts! And yet, while it is true that these gifts are needful in church, it is clear from Paul’s words to the Corinthians that the greatest “gift” that we can have as believers is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce the character or grace of Christ in us. Paul tells the Corinthians: “Hey guys… just as you have been enriched in every kind of gift in the Spirit, including your love for us, may you also be enriched in the grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, paraphrased).

Apparently, they needed to be “pushed” in some areas. That is not grace.

Actually, when it comes to ministry, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 provide the clearest example of the practical application of grace in a preacher’s life. In these two chapters, the Apostle Paul finds himself confronted with a situation where apparently only law could work. But Paul was a man of grace! He therefore used every means possible, embedded here in these two long chapters, to cajole these hard Corinthians into living a life of grace.

Paul was a true spiritual father!

This goes to show that we cannot bring back the spirit of law into the church, however big the sin or infraction. We must go out of our way to make sure that whatever needs to be dealt with in church  is dealt with in a spirit of grace.

The way Paul dealt with these Corinthians gives his ministry great esteem in light of the gospel.

As for the rest of us, may we never forget that walking in grace is fulfilling the royal law, to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible says that the person who does this has fulfilled the whole law of God.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves, of course, demands that one deny their own self. That means we die. And, pray, what can you do with a dead person?

Need we say it again? Yes, we certainly do – that it is only at the cross where this grace can be found. When our lives are identified with Christ’s in His sufferings and death, when we are constantly (daily) denying our own self and taking up our cross and following Him, there will this grace be found in its fullness.

[Below: The spontaneity in the lives of children provides us with the clearest example of the grace of God]

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Grace! – the Macedonian Example (Part 3)

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 2 Cor. 8:1-4

In this final part, we will include verse 5 of this portion of scripture, which is the foundation upon which all that is written therein is built. This discourse would be incomplete – indeed, it would be meaningless – without an understanding of this verse. Verse 5 reads: And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”

But first, let us consider verses 3 and 4. These verses tell us about the practical outcome of the grace of God that was bestowed upon the Macedonian churches. This is so important for us to understand.

These churches were very poor materially, but when they heard about the physical lack that the Jerusalem church was undergoing, because of the richness of the grace of God in their hearts, they immediately decided to share whatever they had with the brethren who were in need.

There is something very important that I want us to realize about what went on here. The Bible says: “3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift…”

I want us to arrive at the astounding conclusion that the Bible brings up here, which is that the Macedonians gave until they were left with nothing.

Paul says, “For to their power… and beyond their power”, they gave.

What do you think that means?

I believe it means these brethren gave as much as they could give. But then, because of the richness of their generosity, which was a result of the joy that was in their hearts, they decided, ‘No, that’s not enough.’

They then went back inside their houses and took the little they had put aside for themselves and their children and told Paul and the apostles, “Take even these!”

They were left with nothing.

I am sure they were preparing to pull out even their door frames and put them on the donkeys that Paul came with, and Paul was overwhelmed with the sheer incredulity of it all.

Why would they pray Paul “with much intreaty” to take of their goods? It is not common to see people imploring you to take their goods. In churches today, hundreds of programs have been promulgated to make people to give. Actually, it is a form of arm-twisting – and where this fails incentives are brought in!

Have you not heard, in church: “With your gift of a hundred dollars, you can become the proud owner of such and such a souvenir”, or, on the internet, “Click the link at the very top of this description, ‘like’ this site, and you could win great prizes…”

Such a language with the Macedonians would have been as alien as a Martian talking to a man from Earth.

The Bible says the Macedonians gave of their goods willingly, joyfully and cheerfully. “…they were willing of themselves”.

But the Macedonians were rich! They were rich in grace. They could afford to give liberally, almost luxuriantly.

I am sure the Macedonians intreated Paul because he most likely refused to take more of their goods, realizing that these people would be left with literally nothing!

But the consequence of the grace that they carried in their hearts is that they were more concerned about the poor saints in Jerusalem than they were about themselves. They were ready to go without, just so their brethren could have.

These Macedonians were willing to sacrifice themselves that others could live.

Elsewhere, Paul talks of Priscilla and Aquila, Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4).

Finally, let us look at the most important verse in this scripture, verse 5.

And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”

This is talking about revelation. Anyone can give, but if it is not a result of the revelation of the cross in their lives, such giving is not of the Spirit. This is so important for the church to understand, the fact that we need to give in the Spirit.

There are people who do things for worldly glory, or to satisfy their egos or, as we just saw, to profit in other ways. The gospel, on the other hand, has to do with losing our lives. Hence, the cross.

The revelation of the cross is the heart of the gospel. When we catch this revelation, we are willing to lose our lives for Christ. That is why the Apostle Paul would not preach any other gospel other than the gospel of the cross of Christ. The revelation of the cross in our hearts brings the grace of God into our hearts, and we can live the resurrection life, which is a life that has died in the natural, but is alive in the Spirit.

[Below: The Macedonians gave liberally!]

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Grace! – the Macedonian Example (Part 2)

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 2 Cor. 8:1-4

Grace is the church’s inheritance. The Bible says: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17).

Grace is the inheritance that Jesus gave to the church. Isn’t it wonderful to have, or to own what Jesus bequeathed us?

That is why we cannot lightly “fly past” this scripture about the Macedonians. We must encamp there and see what went on with these blessed brethen.

Y’know, today, to a large extent, we do not have preachers of the gospel in church. Today what the church has is mostly worldly-minded motivational preachers. (In this group, unfortunately, there are also fraudsters and scoundrels of the basest sort). Now, motivational preachers will not talk to you about the grace of God. Grace is heavenly business and these men and women have nothing of heaven in their hearts. So they talk of this world. They will talk about the things of this world. They will talk about money and such-like things.

But I think it would have been rather stupid for Jesus to leave behind the glories of heaven and to come to earth to become a billionaire in some church! It would have been extremely ridiculous, and I am glad Jesus did not do that.

There were only two things that Jesus owned when He was here on earth. Jesus had nothing of this world, but He had something else. He had grace and truth. I don’t know about you but me, I want what Jesus had.

These noble Macedonians certainly did.

Today let us look at verse 2 of this wonderful scripture.

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

We read in verse 2 that when the Macedonian brethren were going through tribulation and suffering for the gospel’s sake, their joy was increased!

There is something called ‘diametrically opposed’. We all know that suffering and joy are diametrically opposed. So these Macedonians accomplished a mathematical formula which even Einstein could not achieve: the marriage of two diametrically opposed experiences, suffering and joy.

That is something that can only be attained through the grace of God.

The Bible says that in rejoicing through suffering, the Macedonians demonstrated the grace of God that was in their lives!

One thing I can tell you for sure is that I am not like these Macedonians. In all sincerity I cannot say that I am happy when things are going all wrong in my life. When things are not “working” for me, I tend to fret and there are even times when I have known myself to become absolutely grace-less (and probably even plain hostile) when the pressure became too much to bear!

But the Bible states here that when the Macedonians were going through trouble, it was all song and dance in those churches. That’s the one experience I sure would love to have and to own in my life! That’s grace.

No amount of writing could exhaust the riches to be found in this tiny portion of scripture.

Let us take a peep at the second part.

“… their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

Here we find another set of diametric opposites: poverty and liberality.

It is generally assumed that the rich should give to the poor. I also subscribe to that belief. He who has should give to him who does not have. That is Biblical.

But that has nothing to do with a generous heart. You can give away all your wealth until you scratch yourself like Job, but that does not mean that you are generous. I know of people who give of their worldly goods, but they are not generous. You can see it in the way they give. They will put you to an interview, where you can feel all the condescending fog from them descending upon you…

Let me put it this way: grace enables us to do things the way God does them. God does things willingly, joyfully and cheerfully. When you have the grace of God in your heart, therefore, the natural outcome is to do God’s will willingly, joyfully and cheerfully. When it comes to giving, you will give in exactly in that manner – willingly, joyfully and cheerfully.

God is generous. I have been saved for a long time, and I can attest to the fact that God is generous. There was a time when I thought that I needed to be financially rich in order to affirm God’s generosity. But I have learned to appreciate God’s generosity towards me, a generosity which does not necessarily have to do with him blessing me financially. Money, as the saying goes, is not everything. That is especially so with the gospel.

What God gives us is a rich heart, a heart rich in grace. This is all that matters with the gospel. A heart rich in grace will accomplish everything God needs it to accomplish.

When the Macedonians received the grace of God, they became rich in generosity.

Let us take time to examine our hearts and to see whether we are rich in grace or not. Today, let us forget for a moment our nicely-trimmed bank accounts. Let us instead look into our hearts. Are we rich there or not?

Tomorrow we will take one final look at this exciting scripture.

[Below: Grace – free as a bird!]

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Grace! – the Macedonian Example (Part 1)

[I have changed the title slightly from the original]

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 2 Cor. 8:1-4

No, we haven’t read that clearly enough, have we? Let’s read this scripture once more.

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia…”

In modern English, Paul is saying: “Brothers, we want to tell you about the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia”.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful sentence in the entire universe. When I was in school, there was a certain type of punishment that a student would be given if they failed to complete a given task. They were commanded to write any sentence that the teacher dictated, a hundred times or more. They would be told, for example, to write “I will never come late to class again” – a hundred times!

That meant that while everyone else was outside enjoying their morning break, you would be cooped up in class trying to hold your brains in. Talk of torture! The equivalent to that today is water-boarding.

But I will tell you one thing: re-writing 2 Corinthians 8:1 is one ‘punishment’ I would be extremely happy to undertake. I could gladly write that sentence a million times over and once I had finished, I would be ready to do it all over again… and again…. and again.

In fact, let me just say that I could never tire of this scripture. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever read.

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia…”

But what, pray, is so delightful about this scripture? Actually, what this scripture is saying should knock each one of us off our feet. What it is saying is stupefying. It is telling us that the Macedonian churches received the grace of God! The grace of God!

We will see later on that we probably have a very small idea of what the grace of God really is. Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that in an arrogant sort of way. Let’s all just cool our heels and wait and see what I mean.

Kindly notice that these Macedonians did not receive expensive mansions or bundles of money, nor anything of this world. No, sir; they received the grace of God!

Grace is the most beautiful thing that you can own in this world. There are many wonderful things that we would love to own, but nothing – absolutely nothing – comes even close to comparing to the grace of God in beauty and importance.

There are, for example, many beautiful women in the world. But the truly beautiful woman is the woman who has the grace of God in her heart.

There are also many extremely rich men in this world. But no man is richer than the man who carries God’s grace in their heart.

Tomorrow we will look further at this interesting scripture. But let us, right now, pray that we would be men and women who desire the grace of God in our lives above anything else .

[Below: Even in our modern age, the broken mirror still defines an African woman’s beauty]

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