Ah…. The Grace of God

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

How many times have I written about this verse?  I couldn’t tell you.  I haven’t enough fingers to count them. 

But I find myself continually coming back to these words Christ spoke to Paul.  I think about the “trials” I face.  Then I read words of Paul, describing his ministry adventures as a man who endured…

“far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for pall the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29, ESV).

Personally, had I endured any one of those travails, I would have been marred for life.  However, as we see when we read on to chapter 12, the LORD had given Paul great and glorious visions.  And, in order to keep the apostle from becoming full of himself, Jesus allowed Paul the trouble of a thorn in his side, to keep him humble and focused on Christ.  For it is the grace of God that is sufficient for us.  Our self-sufficiency is absolutely useless.  Anybody who claims he is a “self-made man” is far more a fool than he realizes.

Then I came across this quote from Scottish theologian Alexander Whyte: “Grace, then, is grace – that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.”   Read that again.  Slowly.  Let the words sink in.  Marinate in them for a minute or two.  Or ten.  However long it takes to permanently imprint these words on your very soul. 

Grace is sovereign, for it comes from God Almighty. 

It is free because that’s what grace is – the free, unmerited favor of our Heavenly Father.

It is sure because it comes from God Who never changes, Who is steadfast forever.

It is unconditional because it is a gift from a loving God – His power working for us, and through us.

It is everlasting, for God is eternal.

Grace is the strength we receive for the task at hand.  It allows us to endure whatever we must endure in this life for the work and sake of Christ.  It brings great glory to the LORD when people see His children stand straight and tall in His name under pressure.  Not because we are strong ourselves, but Jesus is strong within us.

Grace is the enabling power and gift available to you – to me – to move forward, press toward the goal, do what God called us each to do.  The grace of God pushes us beyond our fears, our doubts, our inabilities, our poor self-images, the lies we have embraced and the pains we experience (and avoid).

Grace puts pay to the promise that we can do all things through Christ which strengthen us.  The LORD is ever present – even when we cannot recognize His presence.  Even when the pain is great.  Even when the weariness gives way to exhaustion.  Even when your nervous system wants to give out.  There is no darkness God cannot lighten.  There is nothing too hard for God.  No task too tough, no calling unanswerable.

With God’s grace, that is.

So… what are you facing?  What do you need to do that you just can’t see how to go about it?  What obstacle has been dropped in your path?  Should you have avoided that left turn at Albuquerque?  What impossibility do you need to overcome?  Why haven’t you pursued the dream, the vision that God has given you?  Why have you let people get in your way?  What do you need to let go of?  What changes – big and small – do you need to make?  Why have you tried to do it on your own?

Today is the day.

Go grab a piece of paper.

Now.

I’ll wait.

Got it?  Ok.  Here’s what I want you to do.

  1. Write down your name, and the date and time in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Pray.
  3. Write down your God given vision.  Who are you to bless?  How are you to go about it?  How does this vision look to you?
  4. Go do it. 
  5. Find someone who will help keep you accountable and shore you up in Jesus’ name in times of weakness.

Remember that nothing is impossible with God.  His grace – His gift of unmerited favor – is there for you.  Grab it in faith, rest in His peace and rely on His love and mercy and strength and guidance and provision.

And know that the grace of God is there for you!

 

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