┬áThe Sufficiency of the Grace of God

We all have those weeks where we feel completely and utterly defeated over and over again. Where we determine to do right, but we end up failing. That was me last week. So, how does God’s grace affect us in those times? Is it truly sufficient? We will look today at 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 to get our answer. 

The apostle Paul had accomplished much in his life for the Kingdom of God. But there was a hindrance in his path. A thorn in his flesh. Now we don’t know the specifics of the “thorn in the flesh” but we do know that Paul asked God to remove it from him. Three times. 

God’s response to Paul’s request was this:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Despite Paul’s pleading with God three times, his request was rejected. But even though God turned away his request, He did not deny the pain and anguish that Paul was experiencing. He did not tell Paul to suck it up. He did not trivialize or downplay what Paul was experiencing.

Instead, He reminded Paul that His grace was sufficient

According to John MacArthur, sufficiency here in the present tense “reveals the constant availability of divine grace” (MacArthur Bible Commentar, 1650). 

God’s reminder through His statement to Paul was this: I am not denying or ignoring your difficulties, struggles, and failures that have accompanied this thorn in the flesh. But the purpose of this thorn is to provide you with a deeper understanding of the sufficiency of my grace. For through this thorn in the flesh, you will learn to cling to Me tighter than ever. You will understand my grace on a deeper level. And through your weakness and struggle, as you live according to the sufficiency of My grace, I will ultimately be glorified. 

Paul’s response:

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Paul’s response truly reflected his confidence in the sufficiency of God’s grace. He understood that if God’s grace was sufficienct to uphold him, then he could truly boast in his weakness. And the more that he understood that it was God’s grace upholding him, the more he would seek God to be his all in all. And the more God became his sustainer, the easier the spirit would flow from Paul’s life, giving him the strength and grace to live the life God had called him to live. And ultimately God would be glorified through His inadequacies and weaknesses. Paul recognized this.

How does this pertain to us?

We all, in some shape or fashion have an inadequacy, a temptation, a shortcoming that hinders us to some extent. And we think that if it would just go away, improve, be fixed, THEN we could live fully into following Christ. 

But God says to us: I am sufficient. I have equipped you to live for me fully now. And not inspite of your weaknesses but through them, I will use you. And I will get the glory because of it. 

I encourage you this week to view your weaknesses through the lense of Christ. That we would not be ashamed, but proclaim boldly “because of my weaknesses, I know the sufficiency of God’s grace.”

Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiN4sKtvMfNAhWF7YMKHWG6CXUQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhoward-carter.blogspot.com%2F2014%2F03%2Fmy-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-all.html&psig=AFQjCNH8bImGHW49SlRHeanAloLJ7Mudjw&ust=1467091619036210&rct=j


I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

We live in a world of constant change. Technology develops faster than one can blink an eye. World views change, feelings and emotions change, weather changes, new scientific discoveries and theories change the way we view the world, even the way that we view truth. It all changes. So in a world that is ever changing, what can we put our hope in? We need a source of consistency. And this source is Jesus.

In the Old Testament, we see a similar phraseology occurring when God reintroduced Himself and His promises to His people: I am the God of Abraham, Issaac, and Jacob. God spoke this to many of His people. Not only that but we also see it being brought up in the New Testament. Today we want to specifically look at the life of Jacob. 

Jacob was the younger son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. He tricked his father into bestowing the family blessing on him, instead of his older brother Esau. Because of this, Jacob had to flee from Esau’s wrath, to the country of Haran. This is where we pick up our story.

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” – Genesis 28:10-17

So just picture it. You are Jacob. You have tirelessly been running from your brother who wants to kill you. You are exhausted, scared, and even maybe regretful of what you’ve done. In this state, you fall into a deep, dream like state in the middle of the desert, and boom. God shows up.

And God did. He reiterated to Jacob that the promise that Abraham, and Isaac had received beforehand was now being passed on to him, and through him that promise would continue to be passed down the line. The promise included offspring, God’s continual presence, and God’s promise of fulfillment. 

When God reiterated the promise to Jacob, His purpose was simple. To remind Jacob, that in spite of the circumstances, that He and His promise never changed. That nothing Jacob could do would change His love and provision. That nothing man could do would thwart His plans. God was the same God to Abraham and Isaac as he was now to Jacob. And that was great comfort to Jacob. 

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 

As this understanding was important to Jacob, so it is to us. God is with us. He will continue to be with us. And that will never change. 

Mass shootings, like what happened in Orlando, do not negate the Father’s love and goodness. Our own sinfulness cannot repeal His grace and blood that was shed. The world cannot shut God out, nor change Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 

This is encouraging because so much of our world is changing. We fear the upcoming election because of the people that are stepping into power. We fear the world our children will grow up in. We fear many things because things that we once banked on are now changing.

But God comes to us and says,  I am the same God. I am the same God who parted the Red Sea. I am the same God who overcame sin by my death and resurrection. I am the same God who has been with my people from the beginning. My power, my love, my grace, my kingdom. They are constant. Immovable. Unbreakable. And I am with you always.

May we take comfort in a God who never changes in the midst of a world of constant change. 

Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiCjN7_mqrNAhVKIlIKHUQkCQ0QjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpeepsandglances.com%2Fblog%2F2015%2F05%2F11%2Farise-with-ayo-oliyide-god-of-abraham-isaac-and-jacob%2F&psig=AFQjCNHiCCrNeTbraNVIoqczv_2109FM4A&ust=1466086239399209&rct=j


Jesus: Someone who Understands

One of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves is that no one understands. Even if someone has experienced something similar, we deny the fact that they could possibly know what we are going through. So we get depressed and isolate ourselves, all the while desiring someone to understand, but having no one in our life that truly does. No one that understands our dilemmas, confusions, and questions. But the fact is, this is not true. We do have someone who understands. Jesus. 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

How amazingly sweet this passage is. To know that Christ truly knows our struggles. That He truly knows where we are tempted to betray him, and fail to recognize His goodness. He knows when we are tempted to doubt His plans. He knows when we fall short. He knows. He knows because He came to this earth as a human. He suffered rejection, mockery, even wrongful death. He knows. He understands. And that in every respect should be good news.

And so because He knows, we can approach Him. We can approach Him as broken and messed up people who fail on a daily basis. We can approach Him, and know that even when are clueless, helpless, and overwhelmed, He has answers to our questions, and solutions to our problems. Now these may not always come immediately, or in the manner that we expect because His wisdom and knowledge is far above our wisdom and knowledge. But we can always expect a result that will bring us more into the image of Christ.

Jesus knows where you are struggling, failing, and doubting today. He not only knows, but He understands. I pray that you would approach His throne today with boldness that He may show you truly that He understands. And that truly He may give you the mercy and grace that you desire.

Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjHrOmsvpzNAhUXb1IKHdWsDTIQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crosswalk.com%2Fblogs%2Fkelly-balarie%2Fhow-to-win-your-battles-2-strategies.html&psig=AFQjCNEnA45yeI1ERgIwCi5q-CPRtDjMSQ&ust=1465614691192231&rct=j