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Gospel Reaches Across, Compelling Evangelism! (G.R.A.C.E)
Ramesh C. Reddy
Hi everyone :)
May the Lord Jesus empower you and bless you during this summer! May He equip you and guide you through these days! Amen!
Devotional Times (Psalm 149, Proverbs 19, Philippians 1:7-8)
"It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:7-8)
First question that came to my mind was 'What way?'. Then I recalled the answer was revealed in the verses before v. 7. The other reason is because Paul had them in his heart.
Having the brothers and sisters in his heart was not dependent on good/bad things happening to Paul. This is evidenced by the next observations that came to my mind.
Whether I am:
1. In Chains
2. Defending the Gospel
3. Confirming the Gospel
all of you share God's grace with me.
I found Paul's response astonishing because he does not let circumstances of his life diminish his way of seeing God's grace. Even in chains he tells the Philippians that they share God's grace with him.
God's grace is present amidst the chains, amidst the defense of the Gospel, and amidst the confirming of the Gospel for Paul.
He does not let the chains stop him from experiencing God's grace. He also believes in defending the Gospel with God's grace. Finally, he also believes in confirming the Gospel with God's grace.
Paul does not stop there but lets the Philippians know that God can testify on his behalf how much he longs for them with the affection of Christ Jesus.
There are important implications that I saw in these 2 verses!
No matter what the chains maybe in our lives, we can still experience God's grace. Hardship and tribulation will not diminish our sharing of God's grace. That is wonderful to know. God even reminds us that His grace is sufficient for us! He promises to work in our lives and finish the good work He has started! Paul is dependent on God's grace and so should we.
Paul does not have the mentality that God does not need a human being to defend His Good News. On the contrary, he takes the task of defending the Gospel with God's grace. If he needs to defend the Gospel, then it can be inferred that there is opposition for the Gospel. This means when we present the Gospel to others, there could also be opposition.
Do we know how to defend the Gospel?
Can we boldly and gently give an answer to anyone who asks why we believe what we believe with gentleness and meekness?
I learned defending the Gospel with God's grace is important. One of the ways we can learn to defend the Gospel is to study Apologetics which is the defense of the Christian faith. But all the amount of study will not bring converts into the Kingdom without God's grace. We need to do our part and let the Lord handle the rest.
Also, we should not stop with just defending the Gospel but need to take the time to confirm the Gospel. One of the best ways the Gospel can be confirmed is by the way we live our lives in God's grace. If our actions and lifestyle is in line with Scripture, it is one way the Gospel can be confirmed. For that to happen we need to live in God's grace.
But the key to defending or confirming the Gospel rests in verse 8 also: "God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus."
Paul is speaking this longing towards brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are to defend and confirm the Gospel with our pre-Christian friends, we must have the affection of Christ Jesus towards them and long that they come into the Kingdom of God's grace and presence.
For that to happen we need to get away from the mentality of winning an argument with our defense for the sake of being right but rather our desire and will to present any defense or confirmation to our pre-Christian friends should be done because of the Lord's love permeating our own hearts that we want others to experience His grace.
I ask you now dear friends, what do you do with God's grace?
Dear friends, you can allow God's grace to help you when you are in trouble. For He will be there for you. He loves you and can strengthen you.
"God is our refuge and strength, a present help in times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Also, you can allow God's grace to help you defend the Gospel to others whether it be your professors, friends, etc. If you hear people or read people putting down the Gospel, you can take a stand with God's grace working for you.
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Not only that, you can come to the point of confirming the Gospel. All this will be possible because of God's grace and if you can say your longing and affection in Christ Jesus that you have for others can be testified by God. That's how Paul ends verse 8 stating that 'God can testify.....' May you experience God's grace whether you are in chains, defending, or confirming the Gospel. May His grace that we share help us to long for others and show them the affection of Christ Jesus! Amen!
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)
thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we
have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the
saints-- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you
in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and
growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and
understood God's grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear
fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit." (Colossians 1:3-8)
Gospel Reaches Across, Compelling Evangelism! (G.R.A.C.E)
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you so much for the grace that you have given us. Your grace is what has given us life here on earth and it is your grace that will allow us to spend eternity with you as we acknowledge and believe what you have done for us on the cross and as we confess our sins to you. Thank you for dying for our sins and coming back to life to save us. Thank you for you mercy. We confess that we have sinned and not loved you with our whole heart. Please forgive us for the sake of your Kingdom and restore us to you. Thank you Lord and Oh Lord, thank you for teaching us through Paul's example and letting us know that your grace can be experienced in chains, in defending the Gospel, and confirming the Gospel. Help us to be your vessels and long for our friends and family members who do and do not know you with the affection that you have. More than anything help us to long for you. We pray that our lives will be lived in such a way that you can testify on our behalf how we have lived for you. We cannot do this on our own but need your grace so please help us Lord. Thank you so much Jesus. In Your Precious Holy Name we Pray. Thank you Jesus for hearing us and answering us! Amen!
Love in Christ,