I read a powerful portion of scripture this morning that serves as an important reminder for me, as well as for ministry leaders and pastors everywhere:
You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 NLT)
So while leadership is important and vital, Paul reminds us that it’s not about growing your personal empire and your influence, it’s about growing His Kingdom and His Lordship. In other words, It’s not about you and me, it’s about Him.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am… (Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:9-10a, NIV)
“By the grace of God I am what I am.” What a powerful statement that was when Paul said it a couple thousand years ago! And what a powerful statement it still remains today!
Before Paul followed Christ, preached the gospel (the Good News of Jesus) and wrote much of the New Testament, He hated God. No really, He did. He HATED Him. And He hated Christians too. So much so he imprisoned them, did what he could to make their lives miserable and even had a hand in killing them. In fact, he watched with pleasure as the first martyr – Stephen – was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). But even though those acts filled His past, He was transformed by the power of Christ. And by the grace of God, his past was forgiven, his present was repurposed and his future in the presence of The Lord became secure.
I, like Paul, don’t deserve everything God has done for me, or the ministry He has blessed me to lead – but I am so thankful that “by the grace of God, I am what I am”. Now I’m not perfect – I am actually far from it – just ask my wife and kids! Even though I have given my life to Christ, I still can have a short fuse, be selfish, be prideful and fall into the trap of pursuing earthly treasures instead of eternal ones. And although these “struggles of the flesh” frustrate me, they keep me pressing into Jesus, reminding me that I need Him (and His grace) everyday and that transformation is a process that will continue for the rest of my life.
Press into Jesus today. Allow His grace to define who you are and His transformative work to continually be done in your life.
Whatever your past is, God can forgive it.
Whatever your present is, God can repurpose it.
Whatever your future holds, God can secure it.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ….and God has put each part just where he wants it. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-12, 13b NLT)
Ever wondered why you have the kind of skills and passions you have? Ever questioned why you work where you do, live in the neighborhood you live or have your locker located where it is? Well, check this out – God has orchestrated it all. And He did it because He wants to use you there. He wants you love and serve others. He wants to grow His Kingdom through you. Embrace that truth in your world today. May His Kingdom come through you. #heartnothype