Friday, January 25, 2019
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As a review, we are studying the five characteristics of grace that are the indication of God’s Diving influence on our lives. So far we have been encouraged to grow in grace by being merciful to others, and to not require recognition for serving others with the love of Jesus.
Today, characteristics number three and four are: the Divine Influence of Grace enables us to withstand persecution and endure suffering and loss.
In 1932, sports cartoonist George Lichtenstein created a comic strip named Grin and Bear It. In one comic we see an older, overweight boxer sitting on his stool in his corner of the ring. He is obviously losing the fight. His trainer is holding an ice bag on top of his head, his eyes are blackened, his face is bruised, and stars orbit his head. In his dazed and confused state, He is heard to say, “I used to take a beating better than this!”
Some days I feel like that. There are days when I can withstand a lot, and there are others when just a little knocks me down. The difference between those days is this – Divine Influence, or grace!
When my view of life is seen through eyes with a divine perspective, I can rejoice and be glad. When my view of life is seen through the eyes of human reason, I get beat up easily. The ability to take a beating has nothing to do with the intensity of the beating, but rather with the influence of the Divine on my life. It is by the grace of God that I am able to grin and bear it.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and with God – discouragement and despair over the circumstances of life are a product of a self-centered perspective. It is when things don’t go as we planned or as we hoped that we fall into the pit of pity. When the outcome of our personal objectives is allowed to dictate our personal worth, we have set ourselves up for depression. But when our value is based on God’s heavenly truth, then no earthly circumstance can remove our joy.
God has qualified us through Jesus Christ to be a partaker of the inheritance with all the saints in glory (Col. 1:12). He has lavished His love upon us (1 John 3:1) and sealed us with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14) as a guarantee of a great reward in heaven (Matt. 5:12).
Can anything in this life separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Can trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39)
Grace is the Divine Influence upon the heart that is reflected in the life. Life has the ability to beat up and knock down those who are not filled with grace. Grace will bring rejoicing to our hearts, even while the beating is taking place.
Persecution, suffering, and loss will not be eliminated until we are in the presence of God, but God’s Presence in us now provides us with the power, peace, and perspective to stand strong.
If I were the boxer sitting on the stool seeing stars, I want the caption under me to read, “I can still take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, because God’s grace grows in me!”