Grace Enough for Kingdom Work

Launching from college into my career, I realized my starting pay was greater than my immediate value to the company—they were investing in my potential, not rewarding my productivity. I had a title, but lacked expertise it demanded, so I labored to bring my managers at least some semblance of a return. Hard work led to a promotion to a new, unfamiliar job and another steep learning curve, which left me once again exerting myself in order to bring my managers value for their confidence in me. And so went the cycle: new opportunities, heartfelt gratitude, hard work . . . rinse and repeat. My focus was not on earning promotions, but responding to those so graciously given me.

Lamenting his background as a persecuting Pharisee, Paul confessed, “I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle . . . But by the grace of God I am what I am.”1 What a great confession of grace—God’s love and kindness overflowing to an undeserving us, even to the point of new identity and calling. Then by grace, fruitfulness follows. Continued Paul, “and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”2 Yet when we consider God’s call through the lenses of our own natural capabilities, it is intimidating, for only through God’s grace and power can we be effective in Kingdom work. Consider the authority of God’s Word . . .

No one in Christ lives without grace, for “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”3

God’s grace to us is meant to overflow from us to the world around us. This is our calling. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”4

No grace is too small nor calling too big for our Kingdom work, for “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”5

In fact, God uses our weakness to showcase His strength; He speaks this universal truth to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Then with the same confidence as the apostle, we “boast all the more gladly about [our] weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on [us].”6

Then so goes the cycle: God’s call, sufficient grace, effective work . . . rinse and repeat. God is our confidence. Bless His name.

Father, Your nature of grace pours out through Your gifts of grace. Use us as You will—speak Your call, be our sufficiency, and bless the Kingdom work of our hands. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
2 1 Corinthians 15:10
3 Ephesians 4:7
4 1 Peter 4:10
5 2 Corinthians 9:8
6 2 Corinthians 12:9


A Counterintuitive Grace

My little town had its share of parades when I was a boy—the Homecoming parade, Kiddies’ Day parade, and of course, the Fourth of July—all of them kindling warm smiles and a shared sense of community. Yet Memorial Day was different; there we soberly gathered to honor those who sacrificed everything in times of war. Most of the marching vets at that time were of the WWII era, men who had enlisted in droves to fight the expansion of totalitarianism. Their silent salutes through 21-gun salvos conveyed an understanding of freedom that only they could know and an enduring bond with those who suffered alongside them. We held these men in highest esteem.

If we’re going to have a conversation about grace, we must recognize it in its most counterintuitive form: suffering. There is something about suffering that heightens our appreciation of—and deepens our devotion to—a good and right cause. It augments our strength and directs our focus as nothing else can do. To the gathered crowd, Jesus promised, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”1 The apostles would understand this soon enough, for when later flogged for proclaiming the risen Christ, these men left “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus] . . . They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”2 For why would we suppress the truth of Christ for the conditional acceptance of His enemies?

On the eve of His betrayal, Jesus told His followers, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”3 Yet this Christ for whom in grace we suffer is the same One who by grace sustains us in our suffering. God will not abandon us in such times—“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”4 So like those who have gone on before us in Christ, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”5 And if we must suffer on His behalf, then “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”6

Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus . . . Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.7

Father, amid our suffering, You are still God and you are still good. Move us to receive and celebrate Your grace in all circumstances. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 5:11-12
2 Acts 5:41-42
3 John 15:20
4 1 Peter 5:10
5 Hebrews 12:1-2
6 1 Peter 4:12-13
7 2 Timothy 2:1-3 ESV


What Happens in Us as We Look to Him

Imagine. With Peter, James and John, you’re on the mountain at the invitation of Jesus. Suddenly the appearance of His face is altered,1 and it shines like the sun.2 His clothes become “radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.”3 Moses and Elijah, long since dead, appear and speak with Jesus, and a bright cloud4 comes and overshadows all of you.5 Then from this cloud comes a voice, the Heavenly Father affirming His Son.6 Like the disciples, you are terrified and fall on your face.7 If ever a noun needed an adjective, the Transfiguration, as this historic event is called, might be it. “Breathtaking,” “mind-boggling,” or “magnificent,” perhaps?

It was a triumphant moment for Jesus—and therefore all mankind—for His human form was glorified and His Father’s love for Him proclaimed. Of that moment, Peter would later write, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such a declaration as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased’—and we ourselves heard this declaration made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”8 Yet Jesus came down from the mountain where there awaited Him more challenges from His distractors to thwart, more truth for His followers to grasp, and great suffering to incur on our behalf.

The Bible teaches us “if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation,9 and “together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.”10 Then as we are new, so also are we changed, for as Paul writes, the gospel of Jesus Christ “is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”11 Yet often amid our trials and sufferings in this world, we don’t feel new, we don’t see change, and inheritance in God’s glory seems unfathomable. In times like these, we must understand that, despite life’s challenges, our transformation indeed is true and its process continues as we look to the glory of Christ. For “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”12 Then regardless of our circumstances, may we look to Him through prayer and the Word, steadily becoming more like Him with a glory that becomes more glorious. Breathtaking. Mind-boggling. Magnificent. And true.

We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” —1 John 3:2.

Father, Your ways are the best ways. Grace us to see the face of Christ through the eyes of faith, that contemplating His glory, we would become ever more like Him. In His name we pray. Amen.

1 Luke 9:29 ESV
2 Matthew 17:2 ESV
3 Mk 9:3 ESV
4 Matthew 17:5 ESV
5 Luke 9:34 ESV
6 Matthew 17:5 ESV
7 Luke 9:34 ESV
8 2 Peter 1:16-18 NASB
9 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB
10 Romans 8:17 NLT
11 Colossians 1:6 NLT
12 2 Corinthians 3:18