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.

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.