Compelled by Grace

SOWER Vincent Van Gogh

It is forgiveness that sets a man working for God. He does not work in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven… An unforgiven man cannot work. He has not the will, nor the power, nor the liberty. He is in chains. Israel in Egypt could not serve Jehovah. “Let my people go, that they may serve Me” was God’s message to Pharaoh; first liberty, then service.” It is forgiveness that sets a man working for God. He does not work in order to be forgiven, but because he has been forgiven… An unforgiven man cannot work. He has not the will, nor the power, nor the liberty. He is in chains. Israel in Egypt could not serve Jehovah. “Let my people go, that they may serve Me” was God’s message to Pharaoh; first liberty, then service.”

A forgiven man is the true worker; the true lawkeeper. He can, he will, he must work for God. He has come into contact with that part of God’s character which warms his heart. Forgiving love constrains him. He cannot but work for Him who has removed his sins as far as the east is from the west.

―Horatius Bonar,
Holiness and Peace

Artwork by Vincent Van Gogh

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The Gospel Storyline

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Out of the cross comes the resurrection.
Out of weakness comes real strength.
Out of repentance and admitting
you are weak comes real power.
Out of giving away and serving others
comes real strength.
Out of generosity and giving . . .
comes real wealth.
That’s the gospel storyline.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 04/19/2017 at 9:59  Leave a Comment  
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Teach us, Good Lord

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Teach us, Good Lord,
To serve Thee as Thou deservest:
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest
To labor and not to seek for reward
Save that of knowing
that we do Thy will.

–Ignatius of Loyola

Keep on going

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Your life is short,
your duties many,
your assistance great,
and your reward sure;
therefore faint not,
hold on and hold up,
in ways of well-doing,
and heaven shall
make amends
for all.

–Thomas Brooks

 

We plant seeds

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It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise than is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about.

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We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and to do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are the prophets of a future that is not our own.

–Oscar Romero

Freedom to serve

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This verse has long fascinated me. “O Lord, truly I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds” (Psa. 116:16). The psalmist makes a intriguing connection between bondage and freedom. He claims to be a “servant” yet “loosed.” Is this not the beautiful paradox of the Christian? Loosed, but bound. Free, but still a captive. Released to be ruled by Love. The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Sowing and reaping

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You reap what you sow —
not something else, but that.
An act of love makes the soul more loving.
A deed of humbleness deepens humbleness.
The thing reaped is the very thing sown,
multiplied a hundred fold.
You have sown a seed of life,
you reap life everlasting.

–Frederick W. Robertson
(1816 – 1853)

Artwork: Vincent van Gogh

The power to do good

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Do right, and God’s recompense to you will be the power of doing more right. Give, and God’s reward to you will be the spirit of giving more: a blessed spirit, for it is the Spirit of God Himself, whose Life is the blessedness of giving. Love, and God will pay you with the capacity of more love; for love is Heaven: love is God within you.

–F. W. Robertson
(1816 – 1853)

Spreading goodness

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If I can put one touch
of a rosy sunset into the life
of any man or woman,
I shall feel that I have
worked with God.

–George MacDonald

Published in: on 02/28/2015 at 10:11  Leave a Comment  
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Working with God

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To effect the blessedness
for which God made him,
man must become
a fellow-worker
with God.

–George MacDonald
Guild Court

Published in: on 02/07/2015 at 5:42  Leave a Comment  
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Invited to participate

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Here lies the tremendous mystery – that God should be all-powerful, yet refuse to coerce. He summons us to cooperation. We are honored in being given the opportunity to participate in his good deeds. Remember how He asked for help in performing his miracles: Fill the waterpots, stretch out your hand, distribute the loaves.

–Elisabeth Elliot

The soaring life of grace

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Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth. Giving is the way the world is. He makes no exceptions for any of us. We are given away to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our enemies—to the nations. Our life is for others. That is the way creation works. Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves, to live for ourselves. We look so bedraggled and pathetic doing it, hanging on to the dead branch of a bank account for dear life, afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving. We don’t think we can live generously because we have never tried. But the sooner we start the better, for we are going to have to give up our lives finally, and the longer we wait the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace.

–Eugene Peterson
Running with the Horses

Passing it on

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Each one of us is something that the other is not, and therefore knows something — it may be without knowing he knows it — which no one else knows, and it’s everyone’s business, as one of the kingdom of light and inheritor in it all, to give his portion to the rest.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Tend the inner fire

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There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passersby only see a wisp of smoke coming through the chimney, and go along their way. Look here, now what must be done? Must one tend the inner fire, have salt in oneself, wait patiently yet with how much impatience for the hour when somebody will come and sit down—maybe to stay? Let him who believes in God wait for the hour that will come sooner or later.

–Vincent Van Gogh
(1853-1890)

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