“…the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life… In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, …” (Genesis 3:17b, 19a).
“And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize - a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].” (Matthew 11:12)
Just the other day, I sat down and was doing a budget for an upcoming project that is coming up and I realized that I hadn’t factored in a cost that I would incur as I went round collecting information, data, sampling, completing the project and the writing and printing of the proposal. I thought it would cost me little money since I had most of the equipment that I would have used in the roll out and implementation of the whole project but I realized that the small small costs around amounted to a lot of money that I will lose if I do not factor them in. It dawned on me that many times we comprise with the devil on small issues now and then but when they are summed up and evaluated, they can cost us eternal life. The small things that we assume are the ones that cost us later on and most of the times we regret but at that moment in time, regrets do not help us. May the help us not to assume things as we often do.
Knowing that Jesus paid the price for us and thus we can walk free, we need to be more careful than before because the devil will always try to capitalize on our knowledge of the fact that we our price has been paid for and thus, make us misuse the grace that has been accorded to us. Paul asks “WHAT SHALL we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:10) Knowing that Jesus paid the price for us doesn’t mean that we take it for granted! It cost God his only begotten and beloved son to pay the price for you. It wasn’t an easy thing for Jesus to die on the cross but for my sake and your sake. He thought that God had forsaken him yet because of his love for you and I, He accepted to die.
We need to know that Jesus paid the price for our redemption and thus, we can walk scot free of our sins. nevertheless, now that we were redeemed from the sins of our fore fathers (the sin of Adam) and the curses of the Law, God did not relent his curse that he pronounced upon the earth when Adam sinned. That is why, you and I are always working hard and toiling to make sure ends meet. As I had said in my earlier devotions, God has called us to fulfill a certain purpose in our lives and it wont be easy for us to fulfill it. We will face opposition and fight battles; but if we do not give up, we will come out victorious. We have great men and women in the bible who made it in their callings and fulfilled their purposes as God had called and mandated them to. As Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 that we have all these pioneers, champions, veterans and witnesses of faith that are cheering us in what we are doing. Why then should you give up?
We have men and women who paid an extra price and went an extra mile to get what God had in store for them. The problem with us is that we are satisfied with where we are and when we see that we will have to pay an extra cost in some things, the first and the best option that we take is to “back off, retreat and give up.” This should not be so… We have been promised of victory whenever we go for battle. Paul asks a simple question in Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Definitely no one. If we took time to look at all the books in the bible, you will realize that there is someone who did an extraordinary thing and he/she stood out. Let me take a look at a few of them just to encourage you!
1) Hannah – Hannah was a woman in distress because of the pain and mockery that she was going through every day from her co-wife Penninah – reason being that she didn’t have children. In her anguish and pain, she decided not take it on herself to hurl back harsh words at Penninah but she decided to take to the Lord in prayer. This is the bible says “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:10) When someone gets to a point of weeping, it means that he/she is in great pain or distress. You need to realize that you will not get hold of some blessings till you reach to a point where you make a CLAIM and DEMAND them from God. When God gave the promises in his word, He gave a condition for them as well; thus you need to fulfill the same. When Isaac was blessing his sons, there is one thing that he told Esau; he said “But when you grow restless (you can’t take it any more) you’ll break loose and run free.” (Genesis 27:40) Jesus again said in Matthew 11:12 that “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” I love the Amplified bible version. It says: “And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize - a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].” Take position as a child of God and CLAIM your blessings and inheritance.
2) Daniel – The bible tells us that Daniel saw a vision and he didn’t understand its meaning and thus he set out himself to pray. The bible says that “on the very first day that he started to pray, the Lord sent an angel with answer to Daniel but the Prince of Persia blocked the angel from delivering the message. The bible tells us in Daniel 10:2 that Daniel persisted in prayer for 21 days till the prince of Persia released the angel. Sometimes, when we start claiming our inheritance and promises in Christ, they may take time before being manifest unto us. This does not mean that we should give up; instead like Daniel, we should persist more. Jesus told his disciples the parable of the window and the unjust Judge in Luke 18:1-8 to emphasize on praying without giving up! – Persistence. Like Daniel, brethren, we shouldn’t give up easily on what we ask from God. Pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all occasions for this is God’s will concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
3) Esther – she is one incredible woman in the bible who challenges me every time I read about her. She was a risk taker. After Mordecai her uncle highlighted the plot of Haman against the Jew, she told Mordecai to gather all the Jews and pray for three days and then on the forth day, she would go to see the king even though it was against the law. The words that she said to Mordecai always challenge me. She said “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16b). As Christians, we should be always ready to take risks. Anyone who doesn’t take risks will always lose. If Esther didn’t risk to go and see the king, the Jews could have been killed. Jesus said “For whoever is keen on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].” (Matthew 16:25)
If I go on, I can’t finish on all the people who went an extra mile beyond the norm in order to get what they wanted. I could talk of Elisha - the relentless prophet who was keen on receiving the double portion of the anointing upon his Master Elijah. I could talk of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego the three young men who together with Daniel were not ready to compromise their faith and sin against their God. Talk of the four Lepers outside the gate of Samaria that refused to die where they were because of famine and many others.
One thing that I can see that was in common factor with the three that I have mentioned above is PRAYER. It is in prayer that Hannah was able to let out her bitterness and grief before God. It is in PERSISTENT PRAYER that Daniel was able to fight a spiritual battle against the prince of Persia and get his answer from God. It is through PRAYER and FASTING that the Jews is Susa were able to uphold Queen Esther in prayer and asked for favour before the king! PRAYER is the Master key to anything that we need and we will ever need. Jesus said in John 15:7 that “If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” He didn’t say that we ask of ‘some things’ NO! He said “Whatever we need… How can we abide in Christ? It is only through constant communication and communion with him in prayer an reading his word.
Take your prayer life a notch higher and you will see results that are a notch higher. Have more intimate time with God and He will reveal intimate things to you. The bible says in Psalm 25:14 that “the LORD conﬁdes in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” Do you want to be the person that the Lord will confide in? Be careful to be found in his presence always and bond with him!
“It is finished” (John 19:30).
“In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Each and everyday in our lives we wake up to toil and struggle to make ends meet. Reason being that we are pushed to the edge to make sure that things do not fall apart. No one would ever want to be caught on the wrong side of things when not ready and that is why we all struggle to make sure that we lead a better life better than that we had and most of all, to have a strong and good foundation especially for our children. No one would love his or her children go through what some of us went through as we grew up – but by God’s grace, we make it and its something to thank God for. Do not take it for granted.
God has called us and given us a mandate – This mandate costs us and it is up to us to determine whether we are ready to pay the price or not. They say that “nothing comes in a silver platter” meaning that everything that we need to achieve is a matter of our sheer hard work. God said to man (Adam) in the garden of Aden after sinning “…the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life… In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, …” (Genesis 3:17b, 19a). It is because of this that we find ourselves toiling each and every day in our lives. Nevertheless, there is no one that God has called, he/she obeyed and paid the price that God didn’t honour that. God’s call always comes with its provision once we obey and pay the cost.
I was seated quiet in the presence of God; in silence waiting on him and reflection Sunday’s message by Bishop Dr. J.B Masinde which was a turning point in my life and ministry as well. My desire was for God to reveal his mind to me and lead me into the right path as He wants me to. In the silence, God brought to me the picture of the martyrs who had to die because of their faith in Christ. I could imagine the painful death they had to die and my heart was drenched in tears. I realized that in our generation, we may not have to die for what we believe in but in one way or another, we will face hardships in one way or another. The good thing is that in all these, we do not have to give up because we have people who went ahead of us, they made it and so we shall too make it.
This is the encouragement Paul gives us. He tells us “Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrew 12:1-4 – Message bible) Paul encourages us and reminds us that we have many people who have gone ahead of us and thus, they are cheering us also to go ahead and we will make it too! The point here is to keep our focus on the goal and we will certainly achieve it.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John 16:33) We need not to have any worry or fear because Jesus won it all for us. What we need to do is walk in the fullness of the victory that Jesus had. Paul retaliates this and says “[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].” (Colossians 2:15). It is so sad that most of us as Christians, we are living defeated lives simply because we have not understood the power of the victory of Christ a the Cross. The minute you come to get the revelation of that; nothing will scare you. This is what Paul says of the Cross… “For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Christ overcame for us and He gave us authority. Why then live a defeated life as a Christian? Jesus gave us authority in heaven and on earth. He said “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:18-20) Nothing needs to bog you down… you got the power to decree and speak to your situations and Spiritual atmosphere to be as you desire. Take and make use of the power that Christ has vested in you as a Prince and Princess in his Kingdom. Do not live like a servant, rather, live as a heir in the kingdom, knowing who you are!!
PS!! next, I will be looking at examples of people who spoke into their lives and atmosphere and changed them. Let us learn from the people and examples in the bible of the witnesses who went ahead of us and they cheering us!
Blessed day! – Amen!
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20
In the quest of living each and every day, we find ourselves asking ourselves questions that can help us know ourselves and also get to know what or how people view us. What perception do they about us? How do they rate us? It is not just about who we are but also, in our endeavors, we are bound to ask ourselves questions that will enable us get to know if we are headed in the right direction or not. If you haven’t reached that point that you ask yourself such questions, I bet you need to sit down ASAP and do an analysis of yourself and get to know yourself.
After being with his disciples for almost three years, Jesus goes on with his ministry as usual and after He had sent the 12 disciples out on a mission and they had come back; He feeds the five thousand in a crusade and now, they cross over the lake to Caesarea Philippi, the bible tells us in Luke 9:18 that Jesus went away in private to pray. Later, He comes back and asks his disciples the view of the people of whom they thought He was. They went ahead and gave him the answers that they knew. “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” They replied unto Jesus (Luke 9:19). I bet they thought that Jesus would/was satisfied with the answer, but Jesus gets more intimate with them and asks “What about you, who do you say I am? (Luke 9:20). Jesus gets more intimate with his disciples. He wanted to know if they knew him or they were just part of the crowds who came daily to him for miracles and healing.
Many people saw Jesus as a great teacher, a great prophet, a miracle worker, an earthly and political Messiah who would free them from the yoke of Roman oppression and make them a great nation once more. Which is why Jesus’ question had to hit home when he asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” You need to know that for you to know someone well, you need to have spent some good time with him/her. And in this case, Jesus had spent three years with his disciples and thus expected them to have known him well. Life is all about RELATIONSHIPS. The relationship that you have with someone will either facilitate you to know him more or not. Just as it is for people in love and are dating, they spend lots of time together, coffee dates, dinners, lunch name them and then eventually end up in marriage simply because you have spent time with the said person and known him/her.
Peter answers Jesus’ question and tells him that He is Christ the son on the Living God. Jesus answers and tells Peter that Flesh and blood had not revealed that to him, but His heavenly father. You will realize that most of the times that Jesus went to pray, He took with Him Peter, James and John. It is in these intimate moments of prayer that Peter was able to get the revelation that Jesus wasn’t any other man walking with them everyday. Remember at the mountain of transfiguration? (Matthew 17:1-13). Peter sees Jesus being transfigured and the testimony from the voice of god from the cloud as Prophets Elijah and Moses who came to speak to Jesus and Peter wanted to dwell at that place (the presence of God)
I wonder how many of us would answer the question Jesus asked in our generation. “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” I’m sure you would hear all sorts of good things about Jesus. Great Example! Great Guy! Great Prophet! Great Teacher! I bet and believe that in our owns words, we have an explanation and an answer of who Christ is to us. the only way that we can get the revelation of Jesus and who He is is only through two ways:
- Reading the word of God
It is only through Prayer that we can communicate with God and He communicates back to us. God reveals and speaks his mind to us only in prayer. The only place that you can have fellowship with God is only through prayer. Never cheat yourself that 15 minutes prayer session is enough to say that you have done enough. Jesus used to wake up early in the morning to go and speak, fellowship and get guidance from his father and later in the day after a whole day’s ministry, He would go back again to speak to his father. (Read Luke 5:16; Luke 9:18; Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:13; 23) There are two things that I derive from this habbit that Jesus had:
- Intimacy is not a one days thing; it has to e developed over time. – Jesus needed to keep in touch with his father as much as he could because it is only through that, that he could be able to do and accomplish his father’s will and purpose here on earth. Too bad that many of us, we go to God so hurriedly and all we can do is tell him of our problems and then leave. We do not even have time to sit down and listen to him speak to us. The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know the finer details of this person and more so his mind and desires. If we all desire to do God’s will, then we must be willing to sacrifice and spend ample time with him without being in a hurry.
- We are leaking vessels and we need to be refilled now and then – Remember the case of the woman with the issue of blood? (Luke 8:45) When the lady touched Jesus, He stopped and asked who touched him because He felt that power had left him. It is for this cause that Jesus would always go back to the father in the evening to be refreshed and refilled every evening after a busy, tiring day of ministry and spiritual warfare. Apparently, most of us take it for granted and lightly when we spend a whole day safe and sound and get back to our houses without an itch. We need to take time and thank God for the same and ask him for more grace for the following day!
Knowing Jesus is a personal initiative. Paul says “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope].” Philippians 3:10. I love the way the message bible puts the same verse. It says “I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.” This clearly shows that we have to make a personal initiative and we have to sacrifice some things so as to get to know Christ in a more personal way.
As earlier said, Jesus personalized the question to his disciples so as to get to know how they personally knew him. Moses had a desire to know God and he asked him "Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you." Exodus 3:13-14. You need to know that God will not cut off your desire to know Him more. It’s the promise of his word that those who hunger and thirst for him will be filled (Matthew 5:6). My prayer and desire this year is that we will all come to a realization that it is only through the help of God that we can be able to get to know him more. It is unless we have that desire to know him and spend more time with him that He will fill us. One thing I want you to know is that God will never ever let you down and He has made himself available to and for us; it is just for us to avail ourselves to him.
This is his promise in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).” God can never reveal himself to you unless you are intimate with him. There are hidden treasures and secrets that God has and He can only reveal them to his beloved… people who are intimate with him. Just the way you can’t disclose all the details about yourself to someone whom you have a distance relationship with, so is God. Remember what He told his disciples? The bible says “Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:20. God wants us to build our relationship with him then He will open up himself to us so that we can know him more.
“1FOR THE kingdom of heaven is like the owner of an estate who went out in the morning along with the dawn to hire workmen for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3And going out about the third hour (nine o’clock), he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4And he said to them, You go also into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will pay you. And they went. 5He went out again about the sixth hour (noon), and the ninth hour (three o’clock) he did the same. 6And about the eleventh hour (five o’clock) he went out and found still others standing around, and said to them, …You go out into the vineyard also and you will get whatever is just and fair. 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, Call the workmen and pay them their wages, beginning with the last and ending with the first. 9And those who had been hired at the eleventh hour (five o’clock) came and received a denarius each. 10Now when the first came, they supposed they would get more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11And when they received it, they grumbled at the owner of the estate, 12Saying, These [men] who came last worked no more than an hour, and yet you have made them rank with us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day. 13But he answered one of them, Friend, I am doing you no injustice. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this man hired last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not permitted to do what I choose with what is mine? [Or do you begrudge my being generous?] Is your eye evil because I am good?” Matthew 20:1-15
Everyday, we rise up in the morning to go to our various offices and if you are not headed to the office, you are headed to a classroom somewhere and hoping that one day you will be seated in a office somewhere. Depending on where you live, especially here in Nairobi, it will depend on what time you will have to wake up. Why all this? It is because we are headed to work so as to earn something that will help us meet our daily family and personal needs. Everyday, I make a prayer and remind God of his promise to bless the work and the labour of my hands because it is the promise of his word.
God can not bless the work of our hands if we do not work. It’s jut like going into the kitchen, preparing everything you want to cook, put them in a sufuria then place them on the jiko and then wait for them to be cooked without you lighting up the jiko. There are principles that we have to follow. It also depends on what you do and thus, your work will determine the wages or reward that you will get. Jesus speaking to John the revelator said “He who is unrighteous (unjust, wicked), let him be unrighteous still; and he who is filthy (vile, impure), let him be filthy still; and he who is righteous (just, upright, in right standing with God), let him do right still; and he who is holy, let him be holy still. 12Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit.” Revelation 22:11-12. This clearly tells you that all that you and do count in our final reward.
Sometime back, I did share a devotion titled “Will your work Stand??” [Click here to read] and Paul was reminding the brethren in Coring (1 Corinthians 3:9-15) that their works will be tested by fire on the judgment day. This is something that every Christian need to be aware of. Paul urges us to continuously do what is good for in due season we will reap from our labour (Galatians 6:9). If our work will stand, then we will have our reward and if it falls, thus, no reward. Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah had spoken of the to the children of Israel in the old testament. In Isaiah 40:10, the bible says “See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.” Jeremiah echoes the same and says… “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10
Jesus gave a parable in the scripture above to highlight how the Lord rewards and evaluates us. The bible talks of a land owner who went looking for people to work in his vineyard and later paid them. He got laborers at different times of the day, yet they all got the same payment. According to human standards, it was an unfair labor practice to pay the same amount to someone who only worked for one hour as someone who had worked at the same job all day. If we define "fairness" as treating all people equally, then the man in Jesus’ parable is an "unfair" employer. On the other hand, we certainly can’t say that he was "unjust" of course; because he contracted with some to pay them a certain amount for a day’s work, and he kept his promise. But he wasn’t "fair", by human standards, in that he did give people equal treatment to everyone not considering the hours they had each worked.
It so happens that whenever we do something, we sometime expect more than we should have got simply because we tend to think that we have worked more that the others have. We always want more and more even when we clearly know that we do not deserve what we ask for. I agree that some of us go an extra mile and sacrifice so much in what we do especially when it comes to ministry and I assure you that you will be rewarded for that. Jesus speaking to his disciples, he told them; “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:28-29). Jesus assures them that they did not have to fear. He wouldn’t forget their sacrifice for Him. He would faithfully give back to them all that they had given up for Him. And what’s more, they would have the very thing that the rich young ruler could not earn for himself in his own power – eternal life.
Each genuine believer and follower of Jesus has a part to play in the work of the kingdom. And God assures us that we can give ourselves fully over to that work. But we must understand that our service to Him is all a matter of grace – all through; from beginning to end. If we don’t keep that in mind, we won’t have the right attitude about our work or about others whom He calls into His vineyard to work. Our Master evaluates His servants in a far different way than the people of this world do. He loves to shower His grace on those among His followers who are the most unworthy in this world’s eyes. When it comes to the work of His kingdom, "many who are first will be last, and the last first". And that’s how this parable helps us.
Knowing some of the truths about how God chooses and rewards us for our service in his kingdom, then it will help us keep a proper attitude in our labors. First, we need to know that:
1. It is a privilege to be called into the work of his Kingdom. (v. 1). - Jesus begins by saying, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard" (Matthew 20:1). God has work to be done… the work of advancing His kingdom. It was started long ago; but it carries on to this day. And if anyone should be called into that work in any capacity, it should be looked upon as an unspeakably great honor. One will be working for something that will be eternal and that will outlast everything else in this world. And what’s more, will be working for a Master who will never fail to reward those who faithfully serve Him.
If the Lord has called you into the service of His kingdom in any capacity, you need to think rightly about that call. You need to know that it is a great privilege to be called into His service. Rejoice in it; and rise up immediately and get to work! Give yourself fully to that thing the Lord has given you to do. Don’t hold back, waiting for something better to do. Don’t put it off, looking for some other time. Do what He has called you to do now for His kingdom’s sake! Remember Paul’s exhortation; “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10).
2. He Sovereignly calls His Labourers as He chooses (v. 2-7). – Now the landowner didn’t just post a notice at the marketplace the day before and accept everyone who showed up for work. Instead, he went out periodically throughout the day, found men who were unemployed, and sent them to work personally – promising them that he would pay them whatever is right. We need to always remember that God sovereignly calls whoever He chooses to work in His field. He not only chooses whoever He wishes, but also whenever He wishes. Some He calls in the early morning. Some He calls later in the morning, or at noontime, or in the early afternoon. And some He even calls at what almost seems like the last minute. It doesn’t matter the time that He will call you to work, all He requires of you is faithfulness in what He has called you to do and at the end of the day, you will receive your due.
3. There is a day for rewarding all those who serve (v. 8). – There comes a time when the twelve hours of daylight are spent; and the work must come to an end. So; Jesus tells us that "when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward [or 'foreman'], ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first" (v. 8). Now; we need to know that everyone may have been called a little differently. Some were called early; some were called later; some were called near the end; but for all who were called to work, there was a final call to come and receive their wages. And this reminds us that, no matter what our particular call to service in His kingdom may be, our Lord will forget no one. He will faithfully reward all those who faithfully served Him. As the writer of Hebrews says; "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).
4. His way/method of rewarding will display his Grace!! (v. 9-10). When those who were called to work in the vineyard at the eleventh hour came, they expected to be paid a mere portion of a day’s wage, but to their surprise, they were paid a full day’s wage. I believe that this was an act of goodness on the part of the landowner knowing that they had not been able to work a whole day because no one had hired them; he nevertheless gave them what they did not deserve. He gave them the means to provide for their families. He didn’t reward them on the basis of human merit; but rather on the basis of grace. And do you notice that he specifically commanded that these last workers be paid first? He did this so that his grace to them would be displayed to those who followed after. He elevated those who were last to the place of being first, in order to display His grace to those who were first through his kindness to the last.
When I think of the experience of these last workers, and of the great grace that was shown to them, I think of the story of the thief on the cross next to our Lord. Luke tells us that, as Jesus hung on the cross, one of the criminals who hung next to Him blasphemed Him; saying, "If You are the Christ, save yourself and us" (Luke 23:39). Mark, in his Gospel, even lets us know that the other criminal had chimed in and was blaspheming the Lord almost to the very end (Mark 15:32). But something had happened in the heart of that dying criminal. He eventually turned to the first criminal and said, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” We’re told that he then said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom;" and that Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:40-43).
Think of that! There was no time for this criminal to do any good deeds in order to make himself worthy. He didn’t have any time to reform his life. All that he had time to do was to call out to Jesus and say, "Remember me when you come into Your kingdom." He was literally called at the eleventh hour – even, we might say, at the ‘eleventh hour’ of the eleventh hour! And yet, Jesus promised that he would be that very day with Himself in Paradise! Truly, the last shall be first! Our Lord’s wonderful method displays His grace!
This leads us to the other workers; and to a final principle . . .
5. We have no right to grumble at his goodness and grace to others (v. 11-15). Our great God is not like we are. He thinks in a higher way that we think, and he does things in a higher way than we do. Isaiah says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 We need to know that the way God carries his business is not the way we think it should be. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, "If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God." (The Message bible). Let’s be careful to think rightly about our service in His kingdom; and let’s be joyfully about our work!
Dear Lord, thank You for including me in your kingdom. Thank you for giving the same gift of heaven to all people who trust in Jesus. Help me to continually be faithful and always work for you. Help me to be satisfied and thank you for your wonderful gifts to me, and not to demand more. I pray in Jesus’ name…