Sufficient grace

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…”

We are plainly taught how mistaken we are when we set eminent saints upon a platform by themselves, as though they were some kind of superhuman beings or even angels.

Paul enjoyed more revelations than we do or at least more than we should let others know about,  but then he also had a thorn in the flesh. He was a good man, but he was only a man. And, as men sometimes do, he was subject to the lure of the sin of pride itself. Pride in your children is not a bad thing, nor is being proud of your heritage, but the things which Paul had seen in the Spirit and in his walk with the Lord, he might have elevated himself higher than he should if he were to think much about the revelations that were given to him.

In his prayers, Paul asked the Lord to remove this thorn from his flesh. He did this at least three times as recorded here, yet the Lord said, No. My grace is sufficient for you. So, you see sometimes our infirmities may be brought on by Satan but allowed to stay by God. Why? Because when your joints hurt and it is hard to get up and walk or maybe you can’t balance yourself very well, then you need to depend upon God and His grace toward you so that He will get the glory in your weakness by giving you the strength to endure this trial.

In verse 9, Paul says that he would rather boast in his weakness and infirmities that the power of Christ may be manifest in him.

Leaning on God or on Jesus daily is what God was always speaking of when He told the Jewish people time and time again that He was their portion or that He would sustain them. Even in the wilderness, they got tired of the manna yet they ate it because they needed something to eat. He provided water for all of the people and their animals in the desert, even where there was no river or spring to draw from. God has always provided, yet people tend to rely on themselves more than they do on Him. Even when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God provided the substitute for him in the form of a goat.

We are meant to walk with Him every day. That doesn’t mean that you have to be reading your Bible all of the time or even be in prayer all of the time. But, to walk in the spirit of worship regardless of where you may find yourself or in what situation, this is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to take up your cross and follow Me. Your cross is your spiritual worship of Him everywhere you are, not just in church or Bible study.

Even when we do walk with Him daily, don’t fall prey to the sin of pride like the Pharisee did while praying. He was proud in his prayer: The Pharisee was standing alone by himself and he was praying these things: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men: extortioners, oppressors, adulterers, and not like this Tax Collector.”  We must be careful not to allow pride to raise us to a place above others because we don’t deserve it, especially concerning our faith in Jesus.

Paul’s thorn was a blessing as well as a messenger of Satan because it drove him to his knees in prayer. Anytime that we are on our knees in prayer before God we can stand before anyone or anything! God honors our prayers and He hears them, whether He answers them right away or not is His prerogative because He is God!

Do we look to Him for our strength today and every day or do we just say so because it makes us look more like a Christian in the eyes of others? Remember, there are many people who claim to be a Christian but there are fewer people who actually worship God and live their lives in accordance with His Word. Even when they do this, they don’t brag about it, they just walk through their day and their lives the way that they always have since Christ entered their life. Sometimes you can spot them and other times you may not be able to pick them out. Striving to be more like Jesus is a life of living one foot in front of the other. Every second of each day is expectant of His return for us because it could be at any time.

Is it possible to live with the grace of God giving us our daily bread and following Him like He will be appearing just any day? Yes, it is! Because whether we are ready for it or not, He will appear and call us home one day. Then the world will mourn and rejoice in the same day! Rejoice because all of those “intolerant Christians are gone” and those who are mourning will be the ones who attended services and knew about His return one day but like the virgins who needed more oil…they weren’t ready when He did show up.

Do you consider your blessings?

There are many who may not think that almost everything in your life is actually a blessing from God but each of them is exactly that. Consider the fact that each of us who live today was blessed with life through God’s grace in order to live through the night. Some of you may look at it like a teenager “I’m young I won’t die just by going to sleep tonight”, are you absolutely sure of that? Many of us look at life like it is guaranteed to us until we are old. Really? I have heard of teenagers who have had a stroke or a heart attack after practice for sports in the past couple of years. These children were sixteen or seventeen years old! The same age as my son at the time!

Gods Promise2We are blessed with having a family who loves us, if you are blessed with this you should truly count your blessings! Because there are so many who are in relationships where they are beaten or sexually abused or any number of bad situations! Do you realize that your days are only numbered by God Himself and only He knows how long you will live on this Earth? God loves you and He watches over you in this world, whether you have given your life to Him or not. He knows if you will become a Christian and when it will happen, but that doesn’t give you the permission to go out and do whatever you wish until God calls you!

Jesus said that we should believe in Him and we will be saved. Some people think it is too simple and that it can’t be that easy to be saved from our sins? Yes, it is that simple! Think of the thief on the cross. He didn’t have money or time or even the opportunity to be baptized, but Jesus didn’t care about that. He believed that Jesus was Who they said He was, the King of the Jews, the Messiah, and all he asked was for Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus told him that “today you will be with Me in Paradise”.

We are seeing things happening all over the world today which prove that Satan and his agents are working hard to point people away from God or even cause them to blame God for their suffering and we see it on the news every day. Why is all of this happening? Because he knows that his time is growing very short in this world, that is why! When the church, those who believe in Jesus, is taken up to Heaven he knows that his time will only be seven more years in this world.

We can’t live a Christian life alone because our strength is weak, especially our spiritual strength. Even pastors have trouble living a holy life, one which people might look up to him for and I never thought about why we can’t do it? It is very simple actually. We have to walk with Jesus every day, put our troubles on Him, depend upon Him for our strength in every matter of life. In America, we have always looked up to many “actors” who played the part of an independent cowboy or a strong military person, one who could accomplish almost any task that was before them. The problem with that is this: being a Christian is even harder than being an actor or a cowboy or a strong military person.

Our biggest problem is our “old nature”, that part of us which had all sorts of fun or at least thought we did because when we are saved by Jesus we have to walk in Him and read the Bible, which is something we likely wouldn’t have done prior to knowing Him. So, how can we walk in Christ? First of all LEAN ON HIM! Don’t act like you can do it alone because you can’t! The Holy Spirit gives you the knowledge and the power to live your life in Jesus the Christ. Don’t turn away from His call on your life!

The glorious gospel of Jesus!

The glorious gospel of Jesus the Christ is all that you need. Our world and the young people in it don’t need to be preached self-help courses masquerading as topical sermon series.

The church needs to be…the Church that Jesus and His disciples began in that first century. Reaching out to those who are lost, reaching out to those who don’t attend church for whatever reason it might be. Don’t try to make them or your congregation into people who fit into a doctrine or some mold that someone dreamed up when they met with others who wanted to give their brand of religion a code to live by!

That is NOT what Jesus taught! He taught that we are saved by faith alone in Him and through Him, we are justified and sanctified! No amount of communion services or crackers and wine/grape juice will ever save anyone, but their belief in Jesus and the sacrifice which He paid for us on that cross does save and sanctify each and every one who believes in Him!

It is true that this sort of a sermon may not be very popular, but it is the truth. People under forty don’t need to be pampered with coffee or told that they are the next generation to lead the church, they already know that! God needs them to carry on with the message, His message of love and compassion and salvation. It doesn’t take a light show or a bunch of slides to bring the message across, just preach from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will do the rest!

Will the church be flooded with people clamoring to get in and hear the message? NO, they won’t at least not at first, but they will come. Put your sermon on the Internet in written form and recordings if possible so more people can hear it or read it because it is needed in the world. Your ideas and your way of teaching may get people’s attention, but God’s Word and His Wisdom is what they truly need and no amount of flowering it up and putting more flamboyant shows which pass as a sermon team approach will make it any more appealing to young or old.

If the Truth of God’s Word is preached, even without the flash and bang of music and lights, the hearts of those in your audience who are longing for God and looking for Jesus will respond to His Word. God does love each of us far deeper and more intensely than we can stand or even imagine, and yet much of the world doesn’t want to hear it regardless of how you jazz it up or change it so that it is more like a pep talk.

If it is the Word being preached, even if you try to disguise it, it will still shine through and those who recognize it as God’s Word may not like what they hear. But…God will get the glory and He will draw those in the audience to Him whether they do it today or next week because He knows how long they have to live but they don’t.

None of us know whether tomorrow is going to bless our eyes when we wake up or if we open our eyes in the throne room of Glory! Make sure where your heart is before your day is through because that uneasy feeling may not let you sleep much tonight if you don’t.

Changing times

We are living during a time which is changing at a rapid pace. Almost on a daily basis something or someone does something which is totally out of the ordinary. A bridge collapses or some bombs are set off in a city which hasn’t had any terror attacks and its on American soil too! Of course, the media isn’t calling the bombings “terror” attacks, just random acts of violent behavior which are unrelated.

Maybe, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing this in the last thirty years or so just as a “random” act and not just one but three! Yes, life is changing here and it isn’t exactly better than it was before. We do have a President who is trying to help our country instead of running it into the toilet, but it seems that there are so many people in America who would rather rip it apart at the seams…at least there are more of them than we used to hear about!

Why is all of this happening? I believe that it is because of how close the world is to the time foretold in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Of course, there are some people who don’t believe that the Bible is God’s Word. Most of them don’t think it is true either. So, what is the church, the people who DO believe in God and His Son, supposed to do while the world ignores God?

We are supposed to be the bringers of the word, the Truth of God’s Word to all of the people who haven’t heard it or those who didn’t believe it in the first place. Tell the people about your Savior and what He has done and what He will do for them too! Because of God’s love for them,  and for the entire world! He is our Creator and we are His creation! It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do with your life if you know Jesus as your Savior then you are a messenger and you need to take it seriously!

Believers are supposed to be messengers for Jesus in our world today, just like His apostles were at the beginning of the church age. Will there be some who refuse to hear or maybe get angry with you for telling them about Jesus? Yes, most likely. But, if you can get them to listen to your story, what Jesus saved you from becoming, then even they might listen..even if only for a few minutes. God’s Holy Spirit will do the rest. If their heart is touched by something that you said or maybe what you were saved from, then He can get them to think about it. “If God cares for the little guy, the one that wasn’t popular in school or the most handsome, then maybe He could care about me too!”.

God has used many unlikely ways of getting people’s attention in the past and He will continue to do so until the very last person is saved. It isn’t a hard thing to believe but if your heart has been hardened by school or science then that may make it difficult, but anything is possible with God. I mean, look around you at the universe! God did all of that with His Words, and it was made from nothing more than the thoughts of God! Just think what He could do with you or me?


Be ready, look up!

Look up…

When the trumpet of God sounds, what will you be doing? Are you working for His Kingdom or just working to pay your bills? Well…it depends on what time of day that He blows the trumpet. If it is in the night, most of the world or at least half of it will be asleep. If it is the early morning, like right after sunrise, then many will be getting up and preparing for the day to come. Whether it is getting ready for school or work, that is what they will be doing, regardless of their age.

What about the people who don’t know Jesus yet? Truthfully, they will be doing mostly the same things that we are, except some of us will be reading God’s Word and doing our daily Bible study, if we are in the habit of doing that. It is a shame that many Christians miss out on the freshness of God’s Word in the morning simply by NOT studying His Word before going to school or work. Why do I say this? Because reading and praying for God to reveal His wisdom for you from His Word is just a good way of starting the day off on the right foot.

Are we commanded to do so? Well, no, God doesn’t tell us that it is a commandment but He did say “Meditate on the Scriptures day and night”; so in a way, He did say that we should read His Word daily. Whether we choose to do it in the early morning or in the afternoon or evening is our choice, but it would get the day started better if you would begin your day by being in His Word.

God loves us beyond our measure and yet we don’t usually seek Him out until something is wrong or something is going wrong in our lives. Many people seem to be brought up with that sense of not needing God until ?. It isn’t good for us to try to live our lives daily, let alone throughout the year, without Him as part of our lives. What good does that do you?

Your Father in Heaven is the Creator and if you don’t want anything to do with Him don’t you believe that hurts His feelings? I know there are some who don’t believe in God or Jesus or a Creator and that is fine, but it is foolish. Our universe did not just create itself and it didn’t organize itself without God’s hand guiding it to be what He intended it to be and to do His will.

On that day when the trumpet sounds, will it be audible for all to hear or will it be audible for only those who have given their hearts to Jesus? Honestly, I have no idea! It could be the loudest trumpet blast in history or it may be only audible to the ears of those who have been waiting for it eagerly. Either way, it is going to happen soon and by that, I mean within my lifetime.

So, look up expecting to hear or see something beyond amazing but also terrifying. Why? Because, if you see it happen or hear it and you are not part of it, then you will need to seek out God fast! Because the world is going to go into a tailspin and there will be a delusion, sent to the Earth, which will allow people to believe the lie that they will be told about what happened. This is what the Bible speaks of in 1 Thessalonians 4, about being taken up in a moment: 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This is the rapture of the Church, of those who believed in Jesus and His message. No matter the denomination, those who have truly believed and have been changed by the Holy Spirit will be taken up into Heaven, changed into our immortal bodies and be with Him forever. Jesus told the thief this while they were on their crosses before Jesus said: “It is finished.” He said, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise”. No waiting for the end of the age when all will be awakened to their punishment or their reward,  and when you die you will be taken from your body to be judged to receive your reward or your punishment.

Make sure of which one it will be while in this life, because after death there will be no second chances.

What kind of love do you have?

God loves each of us with our faults and our imperfections, we can love our children without a reason other than they are our kids. I love my wife because she is a gift from God! Have you ever considered what kind of love do you have in your life?

I do realize that there are people who have not been loved very much in their lives and it is a very sad thing. Because, if they have never felt loved by their parents or grandparents or their spouse then how can they love themselves or others? Love is one emotion which multiplies when it is given to another, most of the time. If you give your love to someone and they don’t return it in kind, then it is like a water hose hitting a rock, it splashes a lot but it will take a long time to penetrate.

Life feels empty and hollow when there is a feeling of being unloved. Here is the only case study that I could find to show the effect of a lack of affection:


In the United States, 1944, an experiment was conducted on 40 newborn infants to determine whether individuals could thrive alone on basic physiological needs without affection. Twenty newborn infants were housed in a special facility where they had caregivers who would go in to feed them, bathe them and change their diapers, but they would do nothing else. The caregivers had been instructed not to look at or touch the babies more than what was necessary, never communicating with them. All their physical needs were attended to scrupulously and the environment was kept sterile, none of the babies becoming ill.

The experiment was halted after four months, by which time, at least half of the babies had died at that point. At least two more died even after being rescued and brought into a more natural familial environment. There was no physiological cause for the babies’ deaths; they were all physically very healthy. Before each baby died, there was a period where they would stop verbalizing and trying to engage with their caregivers, generally, stop moving, nor cry or even change expression; death would follow shortly. The babies who had “given up” before being rescued, died in the same manner, even though they had been removed from the experimental conditions.

The conclusion was that nurturing is actually a very vital need in humans. Whilst this was taking place, in a separate facility, the second group of twenty newborn infants were raised with all their basic physiological needs provided and the addition of affection from the caregivers. This time, however, the outcome was as expected, no deaths encountered.

Here is the link to this if you would like to check it for yourself. Truly, we need nurturing development regardless of our age. The same goes for your relationship with your spouse or with Jesus. Your spouse can withhold any or all of the affection that is needed in a relationship, but your relationship will suffer greatly because of it.

Jesus doesn’t keep His love from us because He showed His love to all of us by His death and resurrection! He did that even though most of us were still sinners. Why do I say this? Because the population of the world at the time was much smaller than it is today. Yet, He died for our sins whether we were actually living at the time or not! “But, that doesn’t make sense?” you might ask. It does when you consider that God can see ALL of history since He is outside of time. He can see and know every person that ever lived even though they may not be physically alive at this moment.

That is why He says to one of His prophets: “I knew you before you were“. God loves each of us because of what He knows about us even before we are born. Make sure that your life reflects His love toward anyone that you meet daily. Begin your day with a reading of His Word, maybe just a few verses to begin with. Working up to a chapter each day will wash your mind and heart with His Word before any other stuff happens in your walk with Him.

Seek Him through the Bible, learn His voice by reading His Word, pray and ask Him to give you an understanding of His Word and when the Holy Spirit draws you to Him…please don’t turn away from His call.

Are you worried?

Anxiety and worry is the contemplation of your future without God in it. Who would do this in this day and time? But, worry and anxiety cause much stress and disease in the day that we live in today. Jesus said that we should not worry, leave your worries with God and He will take care of you. Yet, do we believe it? Really?

Pleanuts-worry-cartoonWith all of the self-help books being sold by “Christian” writers who make many thousands of dollars because of our anxiety, I don’t think we leave our worries and anxiety with God. Can we become more or less worrisome? I suppose it is because of our own pride, we want to be the fixer of the problem, we want to take the anxiety away from our family…but can we? Is it possible for one of us to actually do that thing?

In today’s society, no matter where you might live, money is the one blessing that can take away most of our worries and our anxieties. With the exception of diseases like cancer or deadly infections, money actually can take away our problems. In some ways, money can help with those diseases or infections because if you have enough you can find the best doctors and the best care, no matter how far you have to go to get it.

Contemplation of a day without God in it is a day which I would not want to live through. We need God in our lives every day, every night and at all times.

Denis Lyle, a Baptist pastor in Belfast, Northern Ireland, tells the story of a tourist who visited a beautiful mansion on a lovely lakeshore in Switzerland. The house was spotless and surrounded by well-kept gardens connected by tidy pathways. There wasn’t a weed in sight.

“How long have you been caretaker here?” the tourist asked the gardener. “I’ve been here twenty years.”

“And during that time, how often has the owner of the property been in residence?” The gardener smiled. “He has been here only four times.”

“And to think,” the visitor exclaimed, “all these years you’ve kept this house and garden in such superb condition. You tend it as if you expect him to come tomorrow.”

“Oh no,” replied the gardener, “I look after them as if I expect him to come today.” Denis Lyle, Countdown to Apocalypse (Belfast; Ambassador Books, 1999), 21.

All of us who are watching for our Lord’s return should live our lives as if He were coming today! Yet, most of the Christian world doesn’t. Many of them pray and read a little Scripture and some of them do this on a daily schedule, but the majority of people who claim to be Christians don’t. Why do you think that is with all of the things going on around the world today?

I think that instead of being anxious or worrying about our Lord’s return, we have become apathetic about it. Why? Because there have been many people in the past few hundred years who claimed that Jesus was returning on this date and time and it didn’t happen. Too many people get the idea that they know because of signs and seasons and the trials which are being felt in some churches that God is going to send for His church on a certain date or time. Of course, the problem with this is that only God knows when that day and hour is, we do not.

Truly, we are not supposed to be anxious about His coming or the rapture of the church, just be ready! Yes, it could happen tomorrow or it might be next year or maybe in six months, but live your life as a Christian in light of the nearness of His coming so that He does find you working or telling others about Him.

God is good, always!

I know there will be some who scoff at this because of all the diseases and wars going on, as well as the murders and abortions and other crimes which are happening today, but truly humans can be the most horrific of God’s creation when it comes to being deprived of any remorse or compassion. Thankfully, we are not like this everywhere and all of the time, but if you look back at history from the Vietnam war on back a few hundred years I think you will see what I mean. I don’t have the history books or the quotes to add here but historically we can be pretty ruthless at times toward each other and toward our “enemies” too.

While it is true that God did not make us in this fashion, we do have the capacity to be this way. The fall in the garden brought this on and it has become progressively worse over the centuries. Even in and among Christians! If we could only pattern our daily lives to be more like Jesus rather than being controlled by our fears and our pride along with a good helping of self-righteousness!

The good news is that we CAN pattern our lives to live and be more like Jesus. By reading and studying the Bible, such as the four gospels, to begin with, our thoughts will be transformed to be more like Jesus! Truly asking God to help us to understand what His Word which came from His apostles really means for our lives. If we can read it and study it, say thirty minutes to an hour each day, then we will begin to think more like He did and we can determine His voice from our thoughts when we feel that we have “heard” from God.

Does God speak to us like this now? Yes, He does! But, if you haven’t read the Bible enough to know what His voice sounds like, you might miss it or you might give yourself a “pep talk” which, to you, sounds like God said it…but He didn’t, you did. Many mistakes in life are caused by our own minds telling us something that we want to hear and affirming it with Scripture. If you know what God’s voice sounds like from His Word, you won’t be taken in by your voice or the prompting from Satan trying to get you to do something that Jesus wouldn’t ask you to do.

Seek Him out today. The message is most powerful in this message:

Who is driving?

Have you ever seen those bumper stickers which say something like this: Jesus is my co-pilot? Do you realize what that even means? In a Christian’s life, Jesus is not supposed to be the co-pilot, He is supposed to be THE Pilot! The problem is that we have a very hard time when it comes to giving God or Jesus control over every area of our life. Most of us walk around or drive around with a prayer on our minds or maybe a Bible verse on a sticky note on the console to remind us that we are supposed to be like Jesus.

WalkingwithJesusThe problem with that is that God is not and doesn’t want to be your second, He wants to be first in all that you are and in everything that you do, no matter how small you think it might be. Our lives are small compared to the majesty and glory of our sinless God, but He wants to be part of your daily life, not just someone that you call on in a time of crisis. God loves you deeply or He wouldn’t have given His Son’s life for you and every person on Earth! While it is true that Jesus didn’t stay dead, thankfully, the shedding of His blood was part of the sacrifice which had to be given in order to bring salvation to all who will believe in Him!

No, God doesn’t want to be your co-pilot, He wants to be the driver of your everyday life. Yet, many people stick Him in a place which only gives us a little taste of being a Christian. We visit Him in church on Sunday and Wednesday nights, but we leave Him in the church when we leave. We take a memory of Him with us on the way to work on Monday, but by Thursday we have forgotten that He is there anyway.

We should ride along with Him each day, no matter what may be going on in our lives. He came to the Garden and walked with Adam every day, Adam could probably see His feet in the grass or see His back as they walked along. Could we have that kind of relationship with God? I don’t think we will see any part of Him until we meet Him face to face in Heaven, but I am looking forward to it.

Why do I bring this type of walk with our Lord up now? Because I don’t think that this type of relationship is being taught in Sunday school. God does want a relationship with us that is much more than a once or twice a week visit. He wants to be a part of your life and mine every single day, from the time you wake up until you go to sleep at night. Some people may find this weird, but ever since I accepted the calling of being a preacher I have tried to live my life with Him in it every day. Some days I fail at it pretty badly and some days it goes along pretty smoothly.

The only person Who ever walked with Him perfectly was Jesus, so we are not expected to be perfect just strive toward that goal. Will you fall down or fail at this? Yes, it is very likely but He will help you up and then you can begin again. You don’t lose your salvation just because you trip and fall or give over to a temptation which comes your way. God is not going to kick you out just because you tripped up today or last week because He loves you!