There’s a Grace for That
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV) 7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I Peter 5:10 (NLT): In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
How many of you have an app on your phone that allows you to know something, experience something or navigate through something that helps add to your quality of life? How many of you don’t know now what you would do without those apps on your phone?
I asked my FB friends to tell me what their favorite phone apps were and what they did.
How many of you have Pandora on your phone? It provides you with any type of music in a touch of a button.
Anyone besides Tony Turley have “Virginia Tech Tree ID”? If he runs across a tree or shrub he doesn’t know in the woods, he can quickly do a search based on its characteristics.
How about the app called “Key Ring?” If your key ring gets overloaded with lots of store loyalty cards you can get the Key Ring app and place all of your cards on the app so you can get rid of all of the plastic cards hanging on your key ring!
I’m sure many of you have the “Kroger” app on your phone. With it you can access Kroger e-coupons and load them to your Kroger card. You can check your gas rewards points. You can view current ads. When you load the e-coupon those coupons are automatically applied to your total when you scan your card at the checkout.
Here is a cool app. It’s called “Groove Book.” With it you can pick 100 pictures once a month and send them in. They will print them put them in a little book and send them to you for only 2.99!
There are apps to help you find the cheapest gas in your area, apps to help you count your calories, avoid traffic back-ups, and keep track of your kids’ whereabouts and social media activity.
It seems there is an app for just about every facet of life, industry, work, and entertainment. What did we do before we could carry such customized helps around in the palm of our hand?
Just as there is an app for so many facets of our lives, so too there is a wide variety of “apps of grace” or applications of grace that God has for us which are customized to meet the many different needs and challenges we have throughout our earthly lives. Long before I had considered this idea, John Wesley, who lived in the 1800’s, the Father of Methodism and the Wesleyan tradition of which we are a part talked about different apps of grace. He even identified a kind of grace called “prevenient grace” which is basically grace given to us before we knew Jesus as Savior. It is a grace that leads us to understand who He is and what He has done for us. It is a kind of “wooing” graces that helps us accept Him into our lives.
Others have developed Wesley’s idea of different kinds of grace. There is a common grace. It is for everyone; believer and unbeliever. Scripture says God allows the sun to rise on the just and unjust. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. That is “common grace.” There is saving grace. We know it is by grace through faith that we have been saved, Ephesians 2:8. Others talk about sanctifying grace. This is the grace that allows us to move on in Christ, to be transformed, and to grow as believers. Provisional grace is the application of grace that God gives us when we are in need of something. He provides for our needs whether it is something we stand in need of. Our God provides what we need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. That is provisional grace.
There is also miraculous grace like the grace given to Stephen in Acts 6:8. He was able to perform amazing miracles and signs among the people. God doesn’t have to do miracles today, but He does, and when He does, He does by His grace. Scripture tells us in I Peter 4:10 to use the gifts we have to serve others and as we do we will administer God’s grace in its various forms. So, I suppose you can say there is a serving grace. I believe there is a grace that comes to us as we near the end of this life that helps us transition from here into eternity. I suppose you could call that dying grace. I definitely believe there is a keeping grace which means the love of God holds on to me even when I mess up and sin. If I confess my sin to the Lord and two hours later, I commit a sin and then something happens to me, and I slip into eternity, I will still go to heaven because of God’s keeping grace.
Our II Corinthians text exposes another kind of grace in chapter 12:9 where God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Sufficient grace. This is a “no matter what” kind of grace. It is an “anytime, anywhere” kind of grace. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
“In our time of need . . .” How often do you stand in need of something God can provide? What did the hymn writer say? “I need Thee, O I need Thee, every hour I need Thee!” There have been times I have asked God for help when I was lost in a big city and it was dark, and I was scared. There have been moments when I was singing or speaking in a new or different place, and I have been nervous or scared, and I have cried out to God for help and peace. There have been many moments when life has been stressful, where there has been a lot of pressure or a lot of sorrow or a lot of responsibility, and I wasn’t sure I could do what was expected or required of me, and I have asked God to sustain me by His grace. There was a tough time just a few short months after we moved here, that the bottom fell out of my world personally. What I dealt with had nothing to do with this ministry, but it rocked me to the point where I wasn’t sure I could continue in ministry, and I considered resigning. I prayed through and asked God for His sustaining grace to help me continue in my work for Him.
I have found this word, “sufficient” to effectively describe the grace of God. It covers everything. God has an app of grace to cover whatever you are enduring, questioning, or are working through.
The second text today from I Peter 5:10 is where we will spend the rest of our time. I like how the New Living Translation talks about the grace of God. It says: In his kindness (GRACE) God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will RESTORE, SUPPORT, and STRENGTHEN you, and he will PLACE you on a firm foundation.
Will you say the words from the screen that are in all caps with me? “Restore, support, strengthen, and place.” God’s grace can and will do all four of these things.
What is it that needs restored? Something that is broken, right? Restoring something can be quite a challenge. I admire people who have the know-how to take a piece of old furniture and strip it down, sand it down, and repair parts that are falling apart and varnish it and bring restoration to it. I can’t do that. I don’t have the patience to do that. I don’t have the skill to do that. I don’t have the know-how to do that.
Repairing a life is a lot more work than repairing a piece of furniture, but hear me this morning: Restoration is the heartbeat of God. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) and that which was lost was also broken. Spiritually, we are broken and in need of repair. We can’t save ourselves and without the app of God’s grace, we are hopeless. We are done for. But thanks be to God that He freely offers grace to any who will call upon the name of Jesus.
There are other things that get broken from time to time. People deal with broken hearts, broken relationships, broken reputations, broken health, broken finances, and more. God has grace that will bring restoration to the broken places of your life. He can make all things new! (Rev. 21:5)
I was asked to go to Pastor Burch’s home in Middletown, Ohio four and a half weeks ago by his daughter Meagan. It was the morning after Pastor Burch’s wife, my friend, had been killed in a car accident. Through tears and sobs and cries to God, I drove the three-hour trek. When I got there, I found exactly what I expected. It was a tough day. I hugged my friend and mentor, Pastor Burch, and we sobbed. It was such a sad and intense time. Then his daughter and I shared some moments of weeping. There were waves of grief rolling over both of them that day, and at one point, my pastor-friend who is so strong in the Lord, so full of faith, so resilient and capable, stood up and shouted out, “O God, I am so heartbroken” and fled into a room by himself where he just sobbed before the Lord. How does a 55 year-old man say goodbye to the love of his life and a marriage of 36 years without being broken? It seems impossible.
But from the moment that declaration came out of his mouth, God began to restore him. He is far from healed, but he invited God into his broken heart and broken state, and if you follow him on FB you know he is living proof that God’s grace is sufficient to bring healing from brokenness. As he is walking in God’s grace, God is bringing healing to his broken heart. His life will never be the same without Shelly, but here is the reality of life in Christ, it will be whole through and by the grace of God.
Even if your life is messed up because of choices you have made, even if your choices have ruined your reputation, today, listen, today can be a day to receive restoring grace into your life. Your life can receive healing, and you can live whole and not broken!
Kelly and Brenda Kraft are recipients of the restoring grace of God. Five years ago, both of them lost jobs. Kelly had to relocate. Because Kelly had to relocate during the down-turn of the housing market they couldn’t sell their home. They either had to decide for Brenda and the kids to move to Cincinnati where he was or live apart. They chose to live together as a family, and in the process they lost the home they couldn’t sell. As a result, they had to file chapter 13 bankruptcy to protect themselves which put them in a position where they would have to pay the bankruptcy court back about $50,000.00 over the next five years.
Even though moving to Cincinnati was hard, God blessed them. They rented a house there. Their daughter, Katie, got enrolled into a high school which offered sign language which led her to go on to college to become a sign language interpreter. Another blow came quickly when Kelly’s Lab Corp lab closed in Cincinnati, and he was faced with unemployment or moving to WV. He chose to come here. Brenda stayed in Cincinnati with Katie so she could finish her senior year. Kelly came to the best and most enjoyable job he has ever had. God’s sufficient grace held them together the year they lived apart, paid rent in two places, tithed to the church in Cincinnati, and kept paying their $600.00 a month bankruptcy re-payment. What didn’t make financial sense on paper continued to work out by the grace of God.
Brenda moved here a year after Kelly, and they were blessed to be able to rent a home from Jeff and Tina McComas that had a very reasonable payment. Five years after that bankruptcy and broken credit, Kelly loves his job, Brenda is in ministry where her heart had been pulling her, their bankruptcy re-payment of $50,000.00 is finished, and they are now moving into their newly purchased home (SHOW PICTURE) that has exceeded their expectations and has been a God-grace thing from start to finish…and it is located right here in Teays Valley! Broken dreams and broken credit, RESTORED by God’s grace. (Bouya!) What needs restored in your life? God’s got an app for that!
The next two things Peter offers in I Peter 5:10 about grace is that there is supporting and strengthening grace. In 2 Corinthians 4 the Apostle Paul talks about how difficult life was for him. He suffered persecution, prison, shipwrecks, and all kinds of difficulties. What should have diminished his zeal, what should have broken his spirit, what should have depressed him and shut him down did not. Why not? Because the grace of God is always being poured out on those that need it. He said of himself and those with him in II Corinthians 4:16-18 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Some of you have a lot on you right now. You know a time is coming when things will get easier, but right now you have deadlines, right now you have an overload, right now there is an extra burden you are bearing. God has an app for that. God’s grace is more than sufficient. Rather than become down, depressed, and depleted, you can experience a supernatural renewing, a strengthening, a supporting that will carry you through. Keep your eyes on Jesus! You are going to make it.
Those who wait upon the Lord, renew their strength! (Isaiah 40:31) They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. They will even soar like eagles getting through those circumstances with supernatural ability! I’m not making it up, folks. That is BIBLE! Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Let God grace you with His presence when you are weary and heavy burdened!
When Paul talked about not losing heart and being renewed he said in the next two verses that the key to receiving grace to make it involved keeping a godly perspective and keeping his eyes on Jesus. What you are going through won’t last forever! Ask God for grace to help you see Him and experience Him in the midst of your trials. God wants to work through your trials to transform you.
Don’t short-circuit the process He may want to accomplish. Too many Christians are looking for a way out of suffering when God wants us to look to Him for a way through it. The way through it is the way of God’s grace. Hebrews 13:9 says, Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Don’t look to the things of this world to support you, turn to Jesus. His grace is sufficient!
When you are in a situation where you need held up by the grace of God you will be so grateful in hind sight because of what you learn about yourself and about God. You will be so thankful for the person you become in the process because as God is giving grace to you, He is transforming you at the same time! Supporting grace isn’t just to get you through, but it is to make you new!
I don’t have time to take us through all of the Scriptures that talk about how God changes us and remakes us during times of struggle and hardship, but if you question if what I am saying is true read James chapter one when you go home today.
The final thing Peter lifts up about the grace of God is that it places us on a firm foundation. Did you know that God has establishing grace? It is right there in I Peter 5:10 as Peter says God places us on a firm foundation.
Psalm 90 tells us that God can establish the work of our hands (VS 17). He can make us good at what we do. He can make us effective at our work. He can produce in and through our lives a lasting contribution, a lasting legacy. God wants to build through our lives a testimony, a testament to who He is. He wants us to succeed. He wants to establish our families. He wants to establish our marriages. He wants to establish our friendships. He wants to establish our businesses. He wants us to succeed in life because His reputation is on the line when we take His name. We are the ones who are to endure to the end. We are the ones who are supposed to persevere when the going gets tough. We are the ones who are to build a legacy of faith, and we will do it by the grace of God as He places us on the firm foundation of Christ.
Listen, we aren’t the wishy washy ones. We aren’t the double-minded ones. At least we aren’t supposed to be. We aren’t to be Christians Sunday through Thursday and something else on the weekends. We are to become, by God’s grace, stable, steady, reliable, consistent and faithful. God has called each one of us to occupy a place in this life. We are to have dominion. God is raising us up for a purpose on purpose. We are to take our place and stand firm by His grace. We aren’t to be moved by every wind and wave of doctrine. We aren’t to be led away from our post when temptation comes. We are to be like trees planted by streams of living water (Psalm 1) who say when the culture says it’s ok to do things our own way, “Not me because I have been planted of the Lord, and I shall not be moved!”
Our faith is to be established and unshakeable as we allow God’s grace to flow in our lives. Jesus tells a story, a parable in Matthew Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
If you are on again, off again with Jesus, if you are up one week emotionally and down again the next, if you are in church for a while and out of church for a while, if you are into God’s way one minute and the world’s way the next, it is time to stop vacillating between the rock and the sand. What happens if the storm comes when you are in one of your sandy periods? What will happen to your life if the crises hits and you aren’t firmly fixed on the rock of Jesus?
Sand is always changing. It is always shifting just like the culture. What is in one day is out the next. Guess what? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) On Christ the SOLID ROCK I stand! All other ground is sinking sand! You want to build a life that will count? Occupy the place God has assigned on the Rock of Jesus Christ! God has an app of grace that can help you live a secure, productive life if you will build it upon the foundation of God’s grace in Jesus.
The apps on your phone were all downloaded by your choice. The same is true of grace. It’s available, but you have to choose it. You have to want it in your life. You can’t resist it and then blame God for not making things easier or for not making you stronger to endure. God wants several of us to download some grace this morning.
What kind of grace do you need? Is something broken in your life? Do you need grace to be sustained, and strong and supported? Do you need grace to get established in the Christian life and in the life we are called to live in the world? God has a grace for that, and you can download it this morning through prayer.