Tag: grace

Paul’s Thorn vs. God’s Grace

20130622-112327.jpg“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV)

How many times have you read this passage like so: “And He said to me, ‘No, you will have to suffer with your thorn for the rest of your life. And if you keep complaining, you may have it a while longer'”?

That’s sort of the way I was taught, and thought to be true until I started looking at this thing called Grace.

See, if Grace meant “No”, we would certainly have a time believing the Good News, don’t you think? Like, “for by ‘No’ you were saved…”, or “they who receive the abundance of ‘No’…”. How about, “Noah found ‘No’ in the eyes of the Lord”? Or even, “the law came by Moses, but ‘No’ and truth came by Jesus”!

What if you were moving from from your house, and asked if you could borrow a truck from me. What would you think if I said, “My truck is sufficient for you, for the true value of my truck is demonstrated when you need it the most”? Does it sound like I was saying, “No”?

I believe the enemy of Grace and Truth has sold that lie to the Body of Christ! God’s Grace is SUFFICIENT! It’s MORE THAN ENOUGH! The truth Paul was trying to teach was, “There is nothing you are facing, or will face, that can’t be covered by God’s Grace.”

Paul’s Thorn? I heard the thorn Paul tried to have removed was bad eyes, a certain disease, even a nagging wife! Yep! After all, Paul and Silas had a son named Timothy… (I’ve heard it said). No, the thorn, or as we would say, the pain in the neck, was a messenger, demon, of satan sent to beat him blow after blow (buffet – KJV).

Read through the Book of Acts and notice all the times Paul got beat up! From his early days of preaching in Damascus and Jerusalem, throughout most of his remaining life, whenever he’d open his mouth to preach, someone tried to shut him up.

I wonder who instigated those beatings? God? No! The devil? YES!

There was a time, after going back home to Tarsus, Paul almost put away his preaching jacket because of the persecution he was enduring. Like us, he found the beatings to be less than desirable. And like us, he asked God to make them stop!

God’s response was one of encouragement and strength! In fact, it made Paul rejoice. Rejoice in beatings, in weakness, in confusion? NO! Rejoice because the infusion of God’s Grace, His help, is FAR GREATER than anything he had to endure!

Later on, in the last chapter of Acts, it appears Paul’s beatings had come to an end, “no man forbidding him.”

Any doctrine or teaching that yields territory to the devil, is of the devil. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are not in cahoots with the devil. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give the opposite! The devil does not want us to understand the things of God. God does. The “messenger of satan” is what Paul called it, not the “messenger of God.”

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

Remember, we have an invitation to meet with God at His Throne of Grace; His Throne of help. Regardless of how relentless the enemy has been, the help we’ll find at God’s Throne is more than sufficient.

So we can say with Paul:

“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The Thorn loses its power in the Presence of God’s Grace!

The Manifold Grace Of God – Part 4

20130528-175641.jpgWHAT IS IT? What does one do with it?

Noah found it – Gen. 6:8

Moses found (acquired) it – Exo. 33:11

God showed it to Ezra and group. The reason: so the remnant would experience a measure of revival. – Ezra 9:8

It’s poured onto the lips of the Messiah – Psalm 45:2

The Lord (as a Sun and Shield) gives it – Psalm 84:11

Instructions on where and how to find it – Proverbs 3

Some things it will do for you – Proverbs 3

Wisdom will place an ornament of it on your head – Prov. 4:9

With it on your lips, the King will be your friend – Prov. 22:11

God crowns His work with it – Zech. 4:7

It’s a key to revival, God’s way – Zech 12:10

WHAT IS IT?

Jesus had it upon Him (charis – gift, favor, grace) – Luke 2:40

Jesus was full of it – John 1:14

Jesus exchanged ours for His – John 1:16

Jesus brought it – John 1:17

The apostles did great miracles among the people; it was demonstrated greatly – Acts 4:33

Barnabas saw it in the church at Antioch – Acts 11:23

Paul and Barnabas persuaded others to continue in it – Acts 13:43

The Lord bore witness to the preaching of it, granting many signs and wonders – Acts 14:3

Paul and Barnabas had been entrusted to it – Acts 14:26; 15:40

Through it we shall be saved – Acts 15:11

We believe through it – Acts 18:27

WHAT DO YOU CALL IT?

It is good news – Acts 20:24

It is able to build you up and give you an inheritance – Acts 20:32

It accompanies each ministry office and calling – Romans 1:5

It shares with and supports peace – Romans 1:7

Deemed innocent because of it – Romans 3:24

It can’t be gained through works, but through believing – Romans 4:4

It secures the promise – Romans 4:16

We access it by faith – Romans 5:2

It does MUCH MORE good than anyone could ever do wrong – Romans 5:15, 20

Those who receive an abundance of it (along with righteousness) reign in life – Romans 5:17, 21

It gives us new freedom, overpowering the law of sin – Romans 6

ISN’T IT MORE THAN UNMERITED FAVOR?

Paul wrote with the power of it – Romans 12:3

Gifts differ according to our measure of it – Romans 12:6

It is given to us by Christ – 1 Cor. 1:4

With it we can be wise builders – 1 Cor. 3:10

With it we are what we are and can do what we do – 1 Cor. 15:10

It can be with you and I – 1 Cor. 16:23

It can spread and cause thanksgiving to abound – 2 Cor. 4:15

It is received – 2 Cor. 6:1

We can participate in it – 2 Cor. 8

With it we have sufficiency for all things, and have an abundance for every good work – 2 Cor. 9:8

It is our sufficiency, and it is to be expected when we’re at our weakest moment – 2 Cor. 12:9,10

DO YOU SEE HOW POWERFUL IT IS?

It comes as a “package” – with the Love of God and Communion with the Spirit – 2 Cor. 13:14

We are called “in” it and “through” it – Galatians 1:6,15

One can “fall” from it – Galatians 5:4 “fall” – to drop away; specially, be driven out of one’s course; figuratively, to lose, become inefficient:

It should be with our spirit – Galatians 6:18

It contains God’s riches – Ephesians 1:7; 2:7

Saved by it – Ephesians 2:8,9

It is a gift – Ephesians 3:7,8; 4:7

It can be imparted through the words we speak – Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6

Fruit is produced when you know the truth of it – Colossians 1:6

We can sing with it – Colossians 3:16

God has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by it – 1 Thessalonians 2:16

IT’S BEYOND COMPREHESION, YET WITHIN REACH OF EVERY PERSON

It is exceeding abundant through faith and love which are in Christ Jesus – 1 Timothy 1:14

It was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began – 2 Timothy 1:9

Be strong in it – 2 Timothy 2:1

It brings salvation – Titus 2:11

We are justified by it – Titus 3:7

Jesus tasted death by it – Hebrews 2:9

We can approach it – Hebrews 4:16

Don’t fall short of it – Hebrews 12:15

Let us have it – Hebrews 12:28

The heart is established by it – Hebrew 13:9; Psalm 112 (whole chapter)

You get more of it with God – James 4:6

A good steward of it, ministers it to others – 1 Peter 4:10

It is multiplied to us through Jesus – 2 Peter 1:2

Grow in it – 2 Peter 3:18

WHAT IS IT?

God’s GRACE – His willingness to use His power and ability on behalf of those who’s only prayer is in Him!

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH IT?

What can God do through you?

The Manifold Grace of God – Part 3

20130531-220904.jpg“Grace Conquers”

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV)

“Manifold” – various, diverse, multiple, assorted. God’s Grace is diverse, many sided; it can and will cover any emergency, equip for any task or mission, and is power enough to thwart any and all schemes of the evil one! It is designed to work with the “manifold” wisdom of God, as mentioned in Ephesians 3:7-12, “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” (NKJV)

Grace, God’s willingness to use His Power and Ability on our behalf (our working definition), was given to Paul so that he could proclaim the unsearchable (beyond our ability to know or search out) riches of Christ. Paul was “graced” by God to make all see the mystery Grace had kept hidden up to that point in time.

One part of that mystery was that mankind was to be no longer subject to the “god of this world”. The purpose, the intent, of Paul’s preaching (which was empowered by God’s Grace) was that “now the manifold wisdom of God  might be known by the church (or, revealed through the church) TO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS in the heavenly places…”! In other words, God’s Grace was finally answering the devil’s accusations and jeers toward God. Once and for all!

God’s Grace always conquers satan’s schemes! In the Garden, when Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s propaganda and allowed the devil to be the god of this world through their disobedience, God’s Grace was already in action. God willingly used His power and ability on their behalf! He clothed them, promised them (and He promised the serpent and the devil!), encouraged them and protected their future (by sending them out of the garden).

Fast forward a few generations and it looked as though the devil would finally be able to truthfully say he out-maneuvered God. It looked like all of mankind was going to have to be destroyed because of their wickedness. But while the devil was jumping for joy, Grace came on the scene and conquered! God found a man named Noah; just one man was all Grace needed. The word came to Noah, “Build me an Ark”. Noah listened, received the word (which carried with it the grace to accomplish the task), and began to work. The devil was furious! The promise God made in Genesis 3:15 would still be intact, because of the Grace of God!

Throughout history, God’s Grace has been more than sufficient for anything the devil has conjured up. Even when times were extremely tough, when people were disobedient and needed to be disciplined by God, still His Grace conquered!

Finally, Grace came in the form of a baby, born in a manger. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”, John 1:17. Jesus of Nazareth, God’s promise for man AND the devil!

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. The word “favor” is the same one translated “grace” in other passages. As Jesus began His “earthly ministry”, He was “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). God’s Grace demonstrated God’s willingness to touch people’s lives. Grace demonstrated God wasn’t willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance and have eternal life. When the wild man came rushing out of the tombs, waving his hands and screaming at the top of his lungs, he ran right into the Grace of God – God’s willingness to use His power and ability on behalf of one who couldn’t earn it if he lived a thousand lifetimes. The devil had tried to destroy the man’s life; but Grace came to his rescue!

Again, Grace conquers the devil.

When Jesus went to the cross, giving His life a ransom for many, He was able to do so because God’s Grace gave Him the ability He wouldn’t have had as an ordinary man. Hebrews 2:9, “…that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”

Of course, the devil must have been doing his unholy dance when Jesus was finally put into the grave. But after three days…

Grace conquered the devil! “I am He who lives and was dead! And, behold, I am alive for evermore, amen. I now have the keys to death and hell.” (Revelation 1:18)

The manifold Grace of God now empowers the church of Jesus Christ to declare by precept and example to the devil and his cohorts, the manifold wisdom of God! God’s many-sided wisdom, with the ability His many-sided Grace gives, overcomes all the works of the enemy.

Could this be a reason Peter told the church to “grow in Grace and in the knowledge of Jesus”? Could it be the reason the devil has tried to keep the real truth about Grace hidden from the church for all these years?

Oh, sure, we’ve learned we didn’t or couldn’t earn God’s favor. But have we learned what the Spirit of Grace and Supplication can do to us, for us, or through us? Have we learned how to “come boldly to the Throne of Grace (His willingness to use His power and ability on our behalf), that you may obtain mercy and FIND GRACE TO HELP in time of need”?

If we would find GRACE TO HELP, we would find GRACE CONQUERS! We would discover more of God than we could ever explain, control, or box in! We would experience, first hand, “He is able to do…”, and do it well! We’d witness the God of all comfort, His peace that passes all understanding, and the power of God unto salvation. We’d understand what it means to be saved by Grace, how to season our speech with Grace, and how to live by the Grace of God. 

The devil and his sycophants would have an eye opening experience, as well. When God’s Grace confronts them, all they can do is holler, “What have we to do with You, Jesus? Have You come to torment us? Please don’t send us out of the region!” That really doesn’t sound like a roaring lion, does it?!

Those who have for years lived under the demonic thumb of control, discover freedom from deadly habits and hellish thinking, when they discover how powerful and available the Grace of God is. 

It’s available to those who will ask. It’s available to those who will believe. It’s available to those who haven’t, and couldn’t earn it, but receive it anyway!

People, God’s Grace conquers everything; let the Grace of God FIRST conquer you! Rejoice in your weaknesses, and trust in His Grace. His strength, His Grace, is revealed when you MUST depend upon Him.

You will find it will have an amazing affect on the rest of your life, and future!

The Manifold Grace of God – Part 2

20130531-220904.jpg“Undeserved Merit”? “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV)

This is part 2 of a series called “The Manifold Grace of God.” In the first part I mentioned the standard definition for grace being “unmerited favor.” While I understand I could never be good enough to earn God’s gift of grace (Greek = charis: gift, favor, grace, blessing, credit, concession), I wonder if that definition causes a bit of confusion among Christians and non-Christians alike? I wonder if the misconception of what Grace REALLY IS has caused the Church to become “Grace Difficient”?

There are verses that mention people, Jesus included, GROWING in grace (favor, charis). Why would Jesus need God’s grace if it is undeserved merit/favor? Surely Jesus would qualify as earning it, meriting it, wouldn’t you think? And why would Jesus need to grow in grace, if He is the One Who multiplies it toward us according to 2 Peter, chapter one? Or could it be that God’s Grace is more about His willingness to use His power and ability on behalf of those who call upon Him in faith, rather than God doling out His “undeserved favor” upon people who couldn’t care less about God, or His favor?

Here are a couple of passages describing Jesus increasing in favor (grace) and using God’s ability to accomplish His mission.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 ESV)

“But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9 ESV)

Jesus, according to Philippians 2, laid aside His Godly attributes and walked this earth as a man. He came to walk out His life as the perfect sacrifice and gain back what Adam had given away as recorded in Genesis 3; eternal life and fellowship with God, among other things. But in order to do that, He needed God’s help, God’s ability, God’s grace. And as much as we need God’s Grace/Ability to obey Jesus’ word “You must be born again”, Jesus needed God’s Ability/Favor/Help; His Grace to cover everyone’s debt before God.

Adam could have utilized Grace in the Garden of Eden. You say grace wasn’t available in the Garden? Wasn’t God there? Wherever you find God, you’ll find His Grace. Adam knew what he was supposed to do. He knew he was supposed to obey God and exercise the dominion he had over all the beasts, including serpents. So if he would have called upon the name of the Lord, God would have saved him! If he would have called upon the Spirit of Grace, he would have found grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). In other words, he would have received the help/ability he needed to accomplish God’s will. The first Adam could’ve/should’ve connected with God’s help there in the Garden of Eden, but he didn’t. However, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, DID receive God’s help in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could “taste death” for each one of us.

Of course, while we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly. Friend, that’s you and that’s me. Ungodly to the core. We didn’t deserve what He did, couldn’t pay for what He did IF we could live a thousand perfect lifetimes! But although Jesus did what He did for us, Hell will still have too many people there, and for all eternity. Why? Wasn’t His Grace sufficient? Absolutely, YES! So what’s the problem?

“Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6). Why was Noah given God’s Grace? Weren’t there others around who didn’t deserve it? I’d have to think there were. Was God just playing favorites? Did He have some He just couldn’t stand? No, the scriptures say, “God is no respecter of persons”, and, “He’s not willing that ANYONE perish”! So what did Noah have the others didn’t? What set him apart from the others? It wasn’t his perfection! No, it was his faith in God, which was built upon a relationship he had with God.

People have this idea that, because God’s Grace covers it all, then they can do anything THEY want.

Wrong!

Grace DOES cover it all, but the relationship one has with God affects how one walks with God; which affects what one does or doesn’t do with their life.

Grace is more than just God throwing His favor around to everyone, just because they DON’T deserve it! Grace is connected to faith, to believing, and believing grows out of a relationship with God. As Paul wrote, “it is by faith that it might be by grace, so the promise would be available to all.” (Romans 4:16)

There were a lot of people in Noah’s day who may have thought it didn’t matter to God or anyone else what they did. After all, they were all “children of God”, weren’t they? His Grace would cover them, surely!

Without a relationship with God based upon trust, no one believed Noah telling them to change their actions. I can hear them say, “Hey, man, grace will cover it. Lighten up!”

Just like I hear them today...”As it was in the days of Noah…” (Luke 17:26)

We ALL NEED His ability to help us do all He requires, and although we can’t earn it, there are things we do that either help His Grace grow or diminish in our life! We either connect with or reject His Grace.

In the next post, we’ll look at the many-sided, multifaceted, Grace of God. You CANNOT have a need beyond His ability to help!

Blessed!

20130205-121529.jpg

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel.

Say to them, “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” ’

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”(Numbers 6:24-27 NKJV)

Blessed!

The Hebrew word, barak, means to kneel, to bless God (as an act of adoration), and man (as a benefit).

It has always been God’s will for His creation to be blessed; to enjoy all the benefits He prepared for them. Yes, there was the rebellion which took place, but The Lord still had a passion and a plan to bless His people.

He told Moses to instruct Aaron to bless the people, impart the will of God to them, by SAYING. Aaron would speak to the children of Israel the word of God, His revealed will, and God equated that with putting His Name on them.

According to God, they were blessed with benefits and protection, fellowship and favor, deliverance, healing, and wholeness of spirit, soul, and body. This is what God desired for them and delivered to them, through the words of Aaron.

That was the Old Covenant. The New Covenant, established upon greater promises, has not diminished the blessings of God. Rather, He has secured, guaranteed the blessings through Jesus Christ.

“God sent Jesus to bless you, by turning each of you from your sins.” Acts 3:26, paraphrased.

But do the blessings and benefits really pertain to this present life, or the one to come?

Both!

Ephesians 1:3, “He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in Christ Jesus…” Spiritual blessings aren’t just those that touch the spirit of a man. They are blessings originating from, and distributed by the Spirit. They affect every area of our life, for He has given us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness. Blessed in Jesus!

“Beloved, I pray of above things that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2

Under the Old Covenant, David blessed The Lord because He “daily loaded him with benefits.”

The New is better.

Under the Old, the psalmist declared, “I will say of The Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress…” and ,”He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases…”

The New is better!

The Old Covenant kept the plan of God intact, until The New Covenant was established in Christ.

The New is better!

Blessed going out and coming in. Blessed in giving and receiving, planting and harvesting. Blessed because He sent His Word to heal us and deliver us from all our afflictions. http://clicktotweet.com/t3SO4

Just as the High Priest, Aaron, spoke the Word of blessing over the children of Israel, so the High Priest of the New Covenant, Jesus, God’s Living Word, speaks over (and into) us.

Our response, our amen, our part is to receive the Blessing of God. Jesus, THE Blessing of God!

We are blessed in Jesus because He says so! We agree so by believing God raised Jesus from the dead, and by declaring Jesus the Lord of our life.

“And let the redeemed of The Lord say so!”

BLESSED! It is so!

%d bloggers like this: