Sufficient Grace

Amid the chaos we are experiencing now, it is easy to find ourselves wondering how we are ever going to get through this. Many times, we go through trials and it just seems like it is never-ending, and we just can’t make it through. Today’s Scripture gives us a solid rock upon which to stand. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NASB) The King James Version says, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.”

For a little background on this passage, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthians at this point and telling them that God gave him a vision, and in his vision, he was taken to Heaven but was told not to talk about what he saw there. Then he says that a messenger from Satan came to torment him so that he would not boast because he was able to see Heaven. That form of torment came as a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Now we don’t know what his thorn in the flesh was, and it really doesn’t matter, but Paul tells us that he asked God three times to take it away, and God told Paul no and that His grace was sufficient. That thorn was given to Paul to keep him humble and not exalt himself over others.

Thorns can come in many forms, physical, financial, relationally, any number of things can be a thorn. Currently, our world is experiencing a thorn in the flesh with this Coronavirus pandemic. Notice, Paul said that Satan brought the thorn…not God. The same is with this current crisis. Now, God may have allowed it, just as with Paul, but God didn’t send it.

Personally, we each have thorns with which we deal. For me, it seems to be finances and pain in my back and knees. The pain in my back from Scoliosis, Osteoporosis, and Arthritis, seems to be the more intense thorn. Like Paul, I have asked God to heal my back numerous times, and yet I still must deal with it. But today’s verse tells me that God’s grace is sufficient for me, and so because of God’s grace I can endure the pain. I may never know the reason why I need to deal with this thorn, but I know one thing for a fact, God’s grace gives me power in the middle of my weakness.

Paul goes on to say in verse 10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NASB) Through God’s grace, we can withstand any weakness or difficulty.

One of the worst trials I experienced was when my first husband had 2 strokes and was sick for seven years and then passed away. Looking back, I can see where I became stronger because of it. God never left me, He held me, He walked me “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4 KJV) and gave me the strength to put one foot in front of the other. I have a better understanding now of what a relationship with Him is like. Maybe your thorn is a relationship situation. It could be that God has allowed this so that you will lean on Him and seek Him to find solutions or find that your relationship with Him is more important. Maybe you are distressed and fearful because of the pandemic. It could be that God is wanting you to learn to trust Him completely and not fear. God can take anything that Satan throws at us and use it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Thorns can be a good thing in our lives, even though it doesn’t seem so. Just remember, God’s grace is sufficient!

Justified by God’s Grace

Today as we continue to look at grace, we look at Romans 3:23-24, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) Remember, we said that grace was unmerited favor. Another word in our verse that many may not know the meaning of is justification. Another way to think of it is, “just as if I had never sinned.” When God looks at us through the blood of Jesus Christ, He doesn’t see our sin He sees Jesus’ sacrificial blood. He sees us as pure and holy before Him.

Sin has a penalty…death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Justification and God’s grace takes care of the penalty of sin for us when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and live inside of us. When I was younger, I was studying to be an LPN. I had a rotation in my schooling where I had to work on the floor of a psychiatric hospital. We had one patient who walked the floor mumbling the first part of Romans 6:23 over and over. She was obsessed with the idea that she had sinned and deserved death. Another student, who was also a Christian, and I tried to help her remember that there was a second part to that verse, that Jesus had paid the price for her sin. I firmly believe that our patient was a Believer, but Satan had distorted her mind so badly that all he let her remember was that she was a sinner and it completely destroyed her. She didn’t have the assurance that God’s grace had justified her and that she was a child of God.

Many walk this earth with that same fear. They know that they have sinned, and they don’t have the assurance of knowing that if they only would ask Jesus to save them that they would be justified in God’s eyes because of His grace over them. Satan takes advantage of that and he keeps people in bondage, gripped in fear that there is no hope for them.

Our current crisis is a case in point. People are running around in fear that they will die from this virus, and many most likely don’t have a relationship with God. They don’t know that God will grant favor upon them when they put their full faith and trust in Him. They don’t know that He will place a hedge of protection around them, they don’t know that He loves them so much that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV) God’s grace is evident in the way He is so patient with us. He calls to us time and again, asking us to repent and turn back to Him. He beckons us lovingly desiring us to have a relationship with Him.

What happens when we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord? We are forgiven of our sins, past, present, and future. We are made a part of God’s family and we become heirs of God. Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (KJV) We are children of God, and God extends His grace to us every single day. When we fall short and sin (and we will because we are human) and then confess our sins, He forgives us. (1 John 1:9) We are assured that God’s grace covers us daily. As we walk the pathway He has planned for us we find that we are changed, circumstances change, our outlook changes, all for the better. We are free from the fear of sin’s penalty and we can rest in the assurance that God’s grace holds us.

Our Identity as a Citizen of Heaven

Today’s Bible Journaling takes us to Ephesians 2:19-20, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners; but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” (KJV) With all the craziness going on right now, it is good for us to remember that this is not our home, we are just travelers going through on the way to our Home. Those who call Jesus their Lord, Savior, and Master have no need for fear in troubled times. Our citizenship is not here, it is in Heaven.

Does that mean we have to wait to experience the benefits of that citizenship? No, as Believers, we already are experiencing some of the advantages of being a citizen of Heaven. As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that one of those benefits was the peace I have in the middle of storms. I don’t have to be fearful of what happens to me here on earth. I know that whatever happens, my life is not over, I will live forever in a beautiful place where there is no pain, sickness, or sadness, where there is peace. I will be home!

As attached as we become to this earth, we need to remember that we are only sojourners. We are travelers on a long trip, and we are on our way home. My husband and I just had a three-week vacation recently, and we really had a great time! Were there difficulties? Yes, bad weather and long hours driving, but we did not become overwhelmed by those troubles. We were able to enjoy our vacation despite bad weather and being tired from driving far distances. When we were headed home, we were looking forward to being home, even though we were thoroughly enjoying our time away. We had peace in the face of the hardships, and yet we were anxious to get home.

As Believers, we also look forward to going to our Heavenly Home, whether that be in death or by way of the Rapture. And yet, we can still reap the benefits of Heaven right here on earth. I have already mentioned peace. Other rewards include knowing that we do not walk alone, God is always with us. He promises to “never leave or forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5) He walks this journey with us. We are part of God’s family (John 1:12) and as such, we reap the benefits given to a family. We can experience His incredible love for us and the rewards and blessings He showers upon us. We don’t have to wait to experience those things, we can have them now.

As a citizen of Heaven, I can experience God’s protection. In 2 Samuel 22:3 we read, “The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence.” (KJV) I don’t need to fear sickness, danger, or attacks from the enemy, God is my shield, my refuge, my fortress! That is a benefit of Heaven I can have right now.

Another benefit of Heaven we can experience now is freedom. We live under the law of Grace; we do not need to be burdened by trying to live up to a set of laws that are impossible to keep. Because of our love for Him we willingly live a life of holiness in obedience to His will for us. How awesome to be able to bask in the light of Heaven’s blessings as a citizen! In uncertain times we can rest in the knowledge that our future is secured. We can thrive in our identity as a citizen of Heaven and live a life of peace, joy, and security in our Father’s arms.

Our Identity – We Lack No Good Thing

Today as we continue in our study on our identity in Christ, we are reminded in today’s verse that God will not withhold any good thing. Psalm 34:10 says, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.” (NASB) As I was looking at this verse and thinking of the significance of this verse, my mind did not go toward material things like money or our “wants”, I went immediately to thinking about the current frenzy over the coronavirus. We have seen so many in the news who are drowning in fear over this disease.

The Word says God will not allow us to be lacking in any good thing…and that includes our health. God loves us with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) and His plans for us are good plans. (Jeremiah 29:11) In today’s verse, it tells us that if we seek God, we will have everything we need. Not necessarily everything we want, but what we NEED! That includes wealth, health, people who love us and want the best for us, and if we have asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, He gives us eternal life. All of these are good things that we will not lack.

Instead of being covered in fear, we need to look to Jesus! God also tells us that He does not give us the spirit of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (KJV) That’s another good thing that we will not be lacking. That sound mind includes looking at things like this current pandemic with common sense. Instead of heading to the stores and buying up every last bottle of hand sanitizer or roll of toilet paper, use common sense…what would you do for a common case of the flu? God gave us a mind and He expects us to use it and expects us to use the common sense He has given us.

We also know that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are covered by His blood. I Peter 2:24 says, “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (NASB) We also know that God has promised protection over us. Psalm 91:10 says, “No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent.” (NASB) A prime example of God’s protection goes back to the Exodus of the Israelite people from Egypt. (Exodus 12) Those who placed the blood over the doorposts were saved from the calamity God brought to the Egyptian people. The death angel passed over the homes that had the blood on the doorposts. If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are covered by His blood.

When we realize that God has everything in control, and this crisis comes as no surprise to Him, and He loves us, we have nothing to fear. He will not withhold any good thing! His love for us is far greater than we can ever imagine.

The Bible tells us not to fear 365 times! That is one verse for every day of the year! Matthew 6:34 tells us not to worry, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NASB) Remember, God does not give us the spirit of fear! Trust that He knows all about what is going on in your life and that He has only good things planned for you! Your identity in Christ? YOU WILL LACK NO GOOD THING!

Don’t Be Afraid to Step Out

As we look at having a vision, sometimes we can be paralyzed in fear before we even begin to work toward accomplishing that vision. In today’s Bible Journaling verse, we find that fear can stop us before we start. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NASB) As a little background, Moses had died, and Joshua was now the leader of the Israelites. They were standing at the banks of the Jordan River about to cross into the Promised Land. God is encouraging Joshua not to be afraid to lead the people and cross over the Jordan. Why should he not be afraid? God tells Joshua, “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When we start out to reach the goal of accomplishing the vision God has placed in front of us, fear can arise in us. Fear comes from the enemy, not from the Lord. Satan sits on our shoulder and tells us all the reasons why we can’t, why the mission will fail, others will think badly of us, and on and on it goes. These are all lies straight from the pit of Hell. We have nothing to be afraid of because God is with us. He has placed the vision in our hearts, and He will be the one to help us to achieve the goals set before us to see the vision come to pass. The Bible tells us 365 times, “Fear not!” That’s one verse for every day!

I truly believe that fear is the most damaging to Believers. It stops us in our tracks! We don’t move forward, we stand still, and if we are standing still, we aren’t growing, we are dying, we are stagnating in our walk with the Lord. The vision dies before it begins.

So, how do we conquer the fear that grips us and keeps us from the vision God has given us? Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (KJV) Our first action should be to pray! As we begin to experience fear of even stepping out to accomplish the vision, we need to pray and ask God to help us, to take away the fear. Sometimes that means to pray with every step.

We conquer fear by exercising our faith. Faith that God will help us, faith that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV) As we begin to experience faith rising in us, we can step out in faith and “Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear!” This phrase has surfaced within the past few years and I love it! It reminds me that my faith in God and what He can do is bigger than any fear that may well up in my soul. God speaks to us and reminds us that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

God is our biggest cheerleader and He wants to see us accomplish the vision He has placed in us. The vision, whether it may be for a godly home and marriage, a ministry to reach the lost, or begin a new business, whatever it may be, is something He wants to see us be successful in and will bring glory to His name. As He is given glory, we become the light for others to see Jesus. We become witnesses of what He can do in a surrendered life and we become that sweet fragrance to the world that God loves them, and He can change their lives and put a vision in them as well.

Today, step out toward the vision, let others see how God is working in your life, and accomplish that which He has destined for you.

The Lord is My Light

As we look at how God is our light, our Bible verse is Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (KJV) I think of the different ways God is our light. The first thing I think of as I look at my Bible Journaling page is, I misspelled the word “light”. So, God illuminates our mistakes or sins, the things we struggle with. He does this because He knows we are not perfect, and we need His help to become who He wants us to become.

There are so many things I need help with in my life, and I am grateful that He is always available to help me, to put the light on my failings so that I can work on them. It is our job, once He shines that light on our frailties, to do something about them. If we are to live a victorious Christian life, we must work on fixing what is broken. We are to do what we can do, and then let God take care of the rest.

Another thing I see in our Bible verse is that God is our salvation. Without Him and His plan for our lives (the plan of salvation), we are lost. We wander aimlessly in life without a direction. His light guides us, His salvation saves us from ourselves and from what Satan would do to us.

I also see in our verse that there is nothing or no one of whom we need to be afraid. He is our protector. Isaiah 59:19 says, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (KJV) The Holy Spirit will put a hedge of protection around us to keep the arrows of the enemy from hitting its target, namely, us. Does that mean we will never face a battle with the enemy? No, but we have an ally who will help us during the battle.

I also see in our verse that God is the strength of our lives. He is the one who gives us the strength to endure during hard times. Because of this, we have no reason to be fearful. Romans 8:31 tells us that if God is for us, who can against us? Therefore, we don’t need to fear man or circumstances or anything because God is on our side.

Fear comes in the dark. We can walk down a street in the daytime and not be fearful. But we can walk down that same street at night, especially one that is not well-lit, and we become fearful because we can not see our surroundings. God is our light in life. When we find ourselves walking a pathway in life that is dark, we can be fearful. But when we have God lighting our path, we have no reason to fear because we know He is walking right beside us.

I am so grateful for God’s light in my life. His salvation, leading, protection, correction, and the strength He gives help me become the woman He wants me to be. I encourage you to seek out His light in your life. Then you also can say, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Freedom from the Fear of Death

Death is not something most of us don’t want to even think about. As Believers, we don’t have to fear death because Jesus has conquered it. Today’s Bible Journaling Scripture is taken from Hebrews 2:14-15, “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Why do we fear death? I think for some it is fear of the process of death. What will we feel? will we be aware that we are dying? will there be pain? … all of these can be sources of our fear. For those especially who do not know Jesus as Savior, it is fear of what happens to us after we die. The Bible tells us that there is life after death, the question is where will we spend that life? The Bible says that life after death is eternal. John 5:28-29 says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (NIV) Now some may say, “Well, all I have to do is be a good person and I will live in Heaven.” But that isn’t what the Bible says. Sin separates us from fellowship with God. We all are born in sin because of Adam’s sin in the Garden and that destined us all to death. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” (CSB)

But when we put our full trust and belief in Jesus Christ, accept His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins and live for Him, we can then look forward to eternal life. Jesus is the only way to salvation and life eternal. (John 14:6) God set out a plan to save us from our sin at the very beginning. (Genesis 3:15) Jeremiah 21:8 says, “But tell this people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.’” (CSB) He sent Jesus to die for our sins because of His great love for us. (John 3:16) Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.’” Therefore, we have no need to fear death. The Bible says that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! Revelation 1:18 tells us, “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” We have nothing to fear, Jesus has the keys and He has locked the door, never to unlock it again!

For those who fear the process, the Bible talks about death, saying that we sleep. (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 9:24, John 11:12-13, I Corinthians 15:51) It says we fall asleep here and wake up in eternity. Whether we wake in Heaven or in Hell depends on what we have decided about Jesus. We can rest in the knowledge that Jesus has conquered death and we know that He loves us and wants to take away all our fear. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can rest, without fear of what is to come, knowing we have a Savior who loves us and has given His life for us, and has prepared the way for us. (John 14:1-3)