Agreement: Grace & Peace – Part 3
by Margaret D. Mitchell
"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all." -Acts 4:32-33 (NASB)
Messy & Pretentious
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting in one of Kendra Graham’s messages at The Cove in Asheville, Nc., in which this grand-daughter-in-law of the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham shared her testimony of leaving her self-described “perfect” life to relocate to further her ministry to nations and to reminded us of what God reminded her: that Jesus came for messy people in messy situations and to beware of the “pretense of cleanliness.”
More & Much | Grace & Fruit
We are messy people in need of a perfect Savior!
And it is the mercy of Jesus that rescues us from our messes, the grace of Jesus that propels us forward in Him to produce more fruit for His glory and the abundant grace of Jesus that propels us further to agree with other true believers to produce much fruit for His glory.
Young Kendra Graham humbly acknowledge the intervention through her co-workers for more grace. She graciously thanked her mentor—a mature friend of The Cove—who stood nearby, as well as The Cove’s support staff. Kendra knew she couldn’t fulfill her mission alone. She needed the mercy and grace of God from God and through His people—the agreement with others in Him to produce much fruit.
Mountaintops & Valleys
As I moved out of The Cove’s auditorium and over to the bookstore (Ruth’s Attic), I came upon a photo gallery in which hung a sign that contained quote by Kendra’s late grandmother-in-law, Ruth Bell Graham: "Mountaintops are for breadth of view and inspiration, but fruit grows in the valleys."
As I pondered Ruth’s decree, I realized that I have found this to be true in my own life; but I also know that fruit can grow on mountaintops too, so long as the elevation isn’t too high and the temperature isn’t too cold. But even on the mountaintop, if the fruit freezes in one season, the root (Jesus) will produce new branches (us) in the next, in an effort to produce fruit to a place of maturity, not death.
Isaiah 43:19 reminds us: "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Perception can be and should be an intentional choice rooted in God’s truth.
When we feel like it’s over, that there’s no hope for the messes we’ve created or have been through, not even a glimmer, that’s just God, in His patience and mercy, allowing our limited, ugly fruit of self-righteous pride to die. But He is not finished! He is patient and kind—full of fruit (of The Spirit). He is truth. And He awaits our repentance and invitation for His help. Beseech Him and wait upon Him. He will deliver you!
Psalm 86:15 assures us: "But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."
It is in these times of seeming death that God is working to produce a new branch (us) through which He (the root) will produce more fruit. We just have to perceive it His way. We can humble ourselves and ask Holy Spirit to help us; and He will do so.
His invitation for peace can be found in our sincere belief of His truth and our faithfulness to trust Him at His truth.
And when we truly believe God at His Word, we can feel safe to hand over to Him what we thought was ours. This is when His greater measures of grace will be upon us because we have chosen a path of faith to trust Him with that which is important to our hearts.
So accessing God’s measures of grace is a matter of choosing to exert our measures of trust in Him alone by the measures of faith that He puts in us—all along our journey, in every circumstance.
God invites us to trust Him more and more—to produce fruit, more fruit and much fruit through us as we yield to Him. More fruit will be produced through us by His measure of grace as we faithfully yield to Him. And much fruit will be produced by His abundant (great) grace as we faithfully yield to Him in agreement with other believers who sincerely do the same. This is God’s multiplicity.
And it is God alone who produces good fruit through us and through others.
James 1:17 assures us: "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."
It is crucial that we get past the personal traumas of the scorching valleys and the freezing mountaintops and allow God to heal us and deliver us from the inside out so we don’t die in our pride of self-justification but die to our pride.
We are called to peace—to rest in His truth of Word and Presence in every season and assignment. We are called to increasing measures of faith in His truth to access His increasing measures of grace to produce increasing good fruit—more fruit, much fruit.
Our obedience to God’s ways, to His truth in love is our only right inward and outward influence in every sphere and season and assignment. Everything else is just mankind’s manipulation, rooted in the falsehood of pretense.
Dear Jesus, I praise Your Holy Name as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I repent of having believed the lie that any fruit I have produced is of solely my own doing. I repent of holding onto my perceived perfection and not taking up more of your perfect assignments. Please forgive me for limiting You in my life. I hand my life fully over to you this day. And I invite you to reign as Lord of my life—in me and through me. I choose to rest in You along the way. I choose to acknowledge that, by Your grace, I will accomplish Your will on earth as it is in heaven and that as I agree with others of like spirit and soul, You will produce much fruit through us by Your abundant grace. Thank You, Lord, for forgiving me and for loving me everlasting. I ask You to rise up in me as Ruler and help me reign with You by Your grace through the faith you put into me. In Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.
Originally published Sunday, 18 December 2016.