Today's "thought" comes to you from a small, concise, easily readable book called, "A Gospel Primer for Christians - Learning to See the Glories of God's Love." It was written by Milton Vincent, using a commendable bare minimum of words! He covers some hefty Gospel truths with an economy of words. If you are short of time, and would like to cover many important Gospel truths, and how to apply them to life, this is the book for you. Today I share two selections that spoke to me as I read through them. 1.) A Heart for the Poor and 2.) Chosen for Prayer. Enjoy.
A Heart for the Poor
"Like nothing else could ever do, the gospel instills in me a heart for the downcast, the poverty-stricken, and those in need of physical mercies, especially when such persons are of the household of faith. When I see persons who are materially poor, I instantly feel a kinship with them, for they are physically what I was spiritually when my heart was closed to Christ.
Perhaps some of them are in their condition because of sin, but so was I. Perhaps they are unkind when I try to help them; but I, too, have been spiteful to God when He has sought to help me. Perhaps they are thankless and even abuse the kindness I show them, but how many times have I been thankless and used what God has given me to serve selfish ends? Perhaps a poverty-stricken person will be blessed and changed as a result of some kindness I show him. If so, God be praised for His grace through me. But if the person walks away unchanged by my kindness, then I still rejoice over the opportunity to love as God loves. Perhaps the person will repent in time; but for now, my heart is chastened and made wiser by the tangible depiction of what I myself have done to God on numerous occasions.
The gospel reminds me daily of the spiritual poverty into which I was born and also of the staggering generosity of Christ toward me. Such reminders instill in me both a felt connection to the poor and a desire to show them the same generosity that has been lavished on me. When ministering to the poor with these motivations, I not only preach the gospel to them through word and deed, but I reenact the gospel to my own benefit as well."
Chosen for Prayer
"When God chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), He did not merely chose me to be "holy and blameless in Him." He chose me to be "before Him in love" (see Eph. 1:4 NKJV). To be sure, I am always in God's presence on earth, and in heaven I will be in His presence more fully than ever. But it could also be said that in this life I am especially "before Him in love" when I come before Him in prayer and worship (Ps. 100:2 / Ps. 68:4 / I John 5:14).
Therefore I can infer that prayer is not simply something I am allowed to do as a Christian, prayer is actually one of the great purposes for which God chose to save me. Christ Himself confirms this fact when He makes the following statement to His disciples: "I chose you... that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give it to you" (John 15:16). As I come into God's presence to behold Him, worship Him, or make request of Him, I am arriving at the pinnacle of God's saving purposes for me. God is radically committed to my life of prayer. He shed the blood of His Son so that I might be cleansed and rendered fit to stand before Him in love. He also permitted the brutal rending of His Son so that I might now have a way into the Holy Place through the torn flesh of Jesus.
"Draw near" He says in Hebrews 4. "Draw near" He says in Hebrews 10. "Pray without ceasing" he urges elsewhere. How can I not feel the infinite sincerity of these invitations, especially when considering the painful lengths that God endured so that I might enter into His presence in prayer? Indeed, the gospel itself serves as the sweetest of invitations to pray; and preaching it to myself each day nurtures within me a mighty impulse to come "before [God] in love" and do the praying I was elected to do."
May his words be an encouragement to contemplate and then apply the Gospel to the way we live. Not just in private times of prayer, but in the way we relate to others in every sphere of life. In helping the poor, in the way we do business, in the way we treat our spouses and children, friends and co-workers, fellow believers and non-believers. If we are Christian, and thus saved by the sheer mercy of God, we have experienced His grace. But oftentimes we as believers forget that our experience of His grace obligates us to show that same kind of grace to others (Matthew 21:18-35). If we've received grace, but do not in turn show it to others, have we not stifled one of God's primary intended purposes in giving it to us? "Love others as I have loved you," says Jesus. Can we do that if we are not seeking to exhibit grace in all we do and to all we meet?
In the Service of the Gospel, Pastor Jeff