Friday, January 1, 2010

Amazing Grace

by Stephanie Neibarger

This Weeks' Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you.”(NIV)

For the past couple of weeks, the word “Grace” has reverberated over and over in a variety of ways. I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the real meaning of the word so I decided to look up what grace means in the dictionary. I found one common definition: the unmerited (undeserved) and freely given, infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to man by God.

Lately I have come to understand grace a little differently. [Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this topic. Just as I am not an expert on any of the devotions I have written. I mostly write these for myself!]

I was watching a Charles Stanley program one day and he spoke of how grace “sustains” us through the difficulties of life. God did not promise we would just roll through life without any issues. In fact, He specifically told us we would have them. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

So often when we go through painful circumstances in life, we often ask God to take away our pain. Paul asked God three times to take away his pain, but we see God’s response in this week’s verse: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” God’s not always going to take away the pain; instead He gives us the grace to go through it.

Grace sustains us so we can keep on going, even when we don’t see the circumstances change. I’ve come to realize that even though I don’t always “see” anything happening in a particular situation, I know God is working “behind the scenes.” When we go through hard times and don’t see anything happening, it’s natural to wonder if God really cares. Satan wants us to doubt God and take matters into our own hands or just give up completely. I know. I’ve fallen into this trap many, many times.

In James 5:10-11, we see the example of Job and how he persevered: “My friends, follow the example of the prophets who spoke for the Lord. They were patient, even when they had to suffer. In fact, we praise the ones who endured the most. You remember how patient Job was and how the Lord finally helped him. The Lord did this because he is so merciful and kind.”

On Charles Stanley’s website (here), he lists seven ways of how grace works:

*Grace releases supernatural strength to keep going in the midst of pain, suffering, and loss. The Holy Spirit helps us face adversity.
*Grace ignites determination to keep going.
*Grace reminds us that God is always with us.
*Grace points us toward the Father’s goal in allowing trials. We can be content knowing we are in the center of His will.
*Grace reminds us that God uses trials to strengthen our faith and deepen intimacy with Him.
*Grace assures us that the Lord sets limitations on what can happen to His children.
*Grace gives us faith to believe God will transform tough times into something good.

Next time you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel or you don't see how things could possibly work out, remind yourself of God's grace and how He is always with you. Just remember, Satan fights us the hardest when he knows God has something great planned for our lives!

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your grace. Helps us to stay more focused on You and Your love for us when we are going through difficulties. Sometimes it’s hard to feel Your presence, but please remind us that You are there and Your grace is sufficient for us.

As we approach another New Year and make resolutions, why not make this year your resolution to grow closer to God and allow His grace to wash over and transform you. Listen to Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace: My Chains are Gone” by clicking here.

Power Verses:
2 Peter 1:2-3
“May God bless you with his special favor and wonderful peace as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better. As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!” (NLT)
Romans 8:28, "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him." (NCV)
Hebrews 4:16, "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it."(NLT)


Debby C. said...

Thanks for sharing! We all needed to hear that message from your heart. I love to listen to Charles Stanley too!

Marsha said...

Great devo!! Soemtimes I forget I can "come boldy" to the throne of God. Thanks for the reminder! :D