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!

Favored Because of Grace

As we continue looking at grace, today’s Scripture is from Psalm 5:12, “For it is You who blesses the righteous man O Lord, You surround him with favor as a shield.” (NASB) The King James Version says this, “For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” We have learned that grace is unmerited favor. God releases His favor upon us because of His great love for us.

I love the idea of God’s favor encompassing us with favor like a shield. He surrounds us with His grace, with His favor. How awesome! What is so cool is that He shows no favoritism but shares His grace freely to everyone who asks Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. As we learned last time, we become a part of God’s family, and as such, He showers upon us His love, His grace, His favor. He doesn’t have favorites, for God tells us that He is not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34) He looks at each one of us equally through the precious blood of Jesus. His love is the same for each of us.

It is so reassuring to know that God showers His grace and favor upon us, giving us what we need when we need it. He craves time with us so that He can love us and talk with us. He wants us to get to know Him intimately. When we seek Him out through Bible study and prayer, it’s like we are the only important person to Him at that very moment. I love times, especially when I am troubled about something when in my mind I can go to Him, crawl upon the lap of my Abba Father, and tell Him the struggles, and He wraps His arms around me and says, “It’s ok. I’m here, I’ve got this!” My life verse is Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of Grace, that we might obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (KJV) In my mind I see my Abba sitting not on some cold, pretentious throne, but in a big overstuffed chair and He holds out His arms to me bidding me to come and sit in His lap. He wraps His arms around me, and we have the most awesome time together, and He calls me daughter. When I am in despair, He lets me cry on His shoulder and He tells me that everything will be alright.

Our verse today also tells us that God blesses us. Sometimes it is difficult to think of the blessings God has given us when life seems to be coming at us from all directions. But we must stop a moment and think of all the good things God has given us. First and foremost, should be our salvation! What an awesome gift to us! We have eternal life through Jesus Christ! He has also granted us the love of our families, food on our tables, the beautiful world in which we live, and we could go on. When we become discouraged, we should take a few minutes to “Count Your Blessings” as the old hymn says. Sometimes, I think we forget how much God has given us. We need to also remember the times He has kept us from something that could bring us harm. That is a blessing also!

God’s grace surrounds us as we walk this pathway He has planned out for us. He knows everything from the beginning to the end. We can rest in the knowledge that He will extend His grace to us in every situation and we do not have to worry or be afraid. Nothing that happens to us comes to Him by any surprise. He loves us and wants to shower His favor upon us daily. Take time today to thank Him for His unfailing love and grace. Remember the blessings He has given. What a great stress reliever in this time of uncertainty…God’s grace! It will carry us through!

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.

Visions Come from God

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Joel 2:28-29, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind, And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (NASB) As we look at having a vision, we learn from our Scripture today that visions come from God.

What we may think is our idea really comes from God. He plants that desire, whatever it is, in our hearts. It is part of His plan for us. It is from Him that we receive the desire for our vision to come to fruition. It is His desire to see us succeed in those plans that He has placed in our hearts.

How do we know that our vision comes from God? First, we must pray and ask Him, “Is this part of your plan for me?” If the answer is yes, then we need to ask for His help in making that vision come to pass. Secondly, as we stated yesterday, we should set “God” goals so that we can see the progress we are making in achieving that vision.

If we pray and ask if this dream or vision is from God and He says, “No,” then we need to seek His will for us. Search the Scriptures. If our vision does not line up with the Bible, then the vision is of our own making, not from the Holy Spirit.

When our vision comes from God, He works through His Holy Spirit to help us in accomplishing what He has placed in our hearts. He says He will “pour out My Spirit” upon us, and it is through His guidance that we can walk in the pathway He has set before us. Amos 3:7 says, “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.” (ESV) He will reveal to us the vision He has placed in us.

It is up to us to be listening to His still small voice. He reveals His plan, will, and purpose for us through many avenues – through Scripture, by way of revelation from another person, in prayer, and in many other ways. As a sidebar, I need to also state that when we receive a revelation from someone, it is always good to look for confirmation of that revelation, either through prayer, Scripture or by way of a second person declaring the same thing to us.

As we take that step toward fulfilling the vision He has placed in us, we are walking in alignment with the plans and purposes He has for us. When we set “God” goals, we ensure that we are walking in the direction He has placed for us and we can become successful in accomplishing the vision He has given us.

Now that we know that visions come from God, if we haven’t received a vision or desire from God, it is up to us to ask Him to reveal to us the vision He has for us, and then start on the journey to accomplish that vision. Go for it with wholeheartedness!

Set God Goals for Your Vision

Accomplishing our vision begins with setting goals. No matter whether our vision is tied into ministry, is Spiritually based or not, those goals must be in alignment with God’s desire for our lives. Our verse today tells us that even though we may have plans for our lives, God also has a plan and He has goals in how those plans will come together. Today’s verse, Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” (KJV) The New American Standard Bible says it this way, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.”

If you are anything like me, I’m not a good goal-setter. I am great at getting things started, but not always a good finisher and that is partly because I haven’t set goals before I begin a project. I kind of go head-first into a project with no real thought of where I want to be in the process at a set time, or how I want the project to look or a myriad of other things. That doesn’t always lead to a successful outcome.

As we talk about vision, I think of the vision I have for my blog. My vision is to reach people for Christ. As I look at setting goals, I need to place a goal for my vision. For me, the goal is that someone, even just one person, will come to know Jesus as their Savior through my blog. I then need to think about how I would go about accomplishing that goal. The first thing that pops into my head is, I first need to go to God, pray and ask Him to help me make my posts clear and understandable, posting encouragement that lines up with the Bible, and always look to Him for guidance in writing and doing my Bible Journaling.

My writing must be Scripturally correct, the ideas I put forth must line up with God’s will and desire for each one of us. Therefore, I must keep in close relationship with Him, praying and asking for His help and asking that He move someone’s heart to let me know that through my writing, they have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. In my mind, if just one person gets saved, then I will have accomplished the vision I have set before me.

I need also to put feet to accomplishing the goal. I need to be sure that I am more consistent in posting and Bible Journaling. I cannot let the enemy distract me from achieving my objective. That may entail setting a specific time of every day to do my Journaling and blog. I also must pray and ask God to help me not to yield to the temptation of falling for Satan’s traps.

Setting goals need to be achievable. Sometimes we set goals so high that it is virtually impossible to attain the lofty goals we have set for ourselves and then we become disillusioned. We set ourselves up for failure. Again, we need to pray and ask God to help us set realistic goals.

The goals should also line up with what God desires for us. He has a set pathway all planned out for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV)
He wants us to have a vision and He wants us to succeed in accomplishing that vision utilizing “God” goals; goals that will align with God’s desires for us. As we fix our eyes on going forward toward the vision we have set for ourselves, let this post be a reminder to set “God” goals that will lead to success. Then pray for God’s help, and He will help us.

Vision Requires Alignment with God

Today I’m preaching to myself. As we look at having a vision and accomplishing that vision, I am pricked in my heart. My vision to reach others with Jesus’ love and be an example for others to see His love in me, requires that I be aligned with His Will and the pathway He has set before me. Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (NASB)

The reason I say that I am preaching to myself is that as I read this verse today, God showed me how I was not aligned with His Kingdom. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a problem with anger. I also have a problem with laziness. Neither of these things are qualities that line up with righteousness, peace, or joy; they are anything but! So, I must become aligned with God’s desires for me; to be a person of peace and righteousness thereby giving way to joy.

Alignment is something we all need, whether physically or Spiritually. I deal with Scoliosis, arthritis, and osteoporosis in my back. I need to see a Chiropractor every month to get my back adjusted and put back into alignment. When I skip a month or two for some reason, the back pain is more than I can stand some days. My back needs to be put in place so that it will not give me pain. The same is true in our spiritual lives. When we are not in alignment with God’s Will we encounter pain, be that Spiritually or physically. We need to make adjustments in our lives so that we reflect the characteristics of God.

Visions, whether they be physical, mental, or Spiritual sometimes require that to reach the goal, we must change something to be successful. In my case, anger is not an attitude that shows God’s love; therefore, I need to make changes to reach that goal of having a Christlike attitude. If I want others to see Jesus in me, my attitude and actions must reflect His nature. I need to be aligned with the Holy Spirit in my life. Proverbs 4:3 tells me, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” To be aligned I need to work on my heart. I need to keep my heart diligently with vigilance. The dictionary says vigilance is, “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.”

This is not something that comes easily for me. The enemy puts up roadblocks to trip me up, and even though I may know that’s what is happening, my default is to react in anger. Planning what I will do if someone makes me angry doesn’t really work with me. The anger is sometimes so hot that no matter how much planning I do, I fail and explode before I even can catch myself. My problem with laziness is just as bad. Satan knows how much I hate doing housework, and he is adept at putting other things in my pathway, things that are much more enjoyable, that I fall prey to his temptation, and will waste a whole day doing something other than housework. As I said, planning what I will do to counteract these things does not come easily for me and putting them into practice is even harder.

I must make a conscious effort to push past my instinct to go to my default position on these things. I must determine in my heart to become aligned with God’s Will for me, I must make adjustments in my life to fulfill the vision I have of being a witness before others. I must take account of where I am to reach my goal of accomplishing my vision. How do I do this? Pray and ask God for His help. He wants my vision to become a reality as much as I do.

So today, if you are like me and need alignment, ask God to show you what needs to be aligned and adjusted, then ask Him to help you. He never goes back on His Word to help us. (Isaiah 41:10, 13) God also gives us tools. James 4:7 tells us that we are to, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” (NASB) We must be aligned to His Holy Spirit so that we can accomplish the vision He has placed on our hearts.

Write the Vision

As we begin a new year, we are talking about having a vision. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.” (NASB) The King James Version says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Writing our vision down is the first step in accomplishing the goals we set before ourselves. I must admit, I’m not good at making goals or writing down visions.

I have dreams just like anyone else but setting goals has always been a hard thing for me. My thinking is, “God’s going to do what He wants to do anyway, my making goals isn’t going to change what He does.” However, I’m beginning to see that by writing down a vision and setting goals is the first step in accomplishing the dreams I have.

For instance, my purpose in beginning this blog is to reach people with Jesus’ love and leading them to know Him by accepting Him as Lord and Savior. That is my vision! My heart’s desire is to see people come to Jesus, asking for His forgiveness, and endeavoring to live for Him so that others will know Him also. One of those tools in accomplishing that vision is my use of Bible Journaling.

I admit that I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but God knows that, and what I do in my Bible Journaling is an expression of what He points out to me from the Scripture, and He’s ok with what I do.

Another tool is expressing in words what He is speaking to me, hence the blog. My thoughts written here are a pouring out of what He wants me to learn or what He wants me to hold on to and to share with others.

I believe that God has called me to this as a ministry. I’m not concerned with how many likes I get or how many followers I have. My primary focus is being obedient to what God has called me to do, and I leave the results up to Him. It’s nice when I get a new follower; I am grateful that I have made an impact on someone through my blog. I keep in mind that Scripture says not to despise small beginnings, (Zechariah 4:10) because God rejoices in seeing the beginning of something sprout and grow, whether it be a ministry He is calling us to, or whether it is a goal we have that is lined up with His will.

Writing the vision down puts it in black and white, it is in front of our eyes, something to look at from time to time as a reminder of the direction we want to go. Writing goals are steps to accomplish that vision. Periodically we need to take account of where we are in achieving the vision and goals we have set; it gives us a measuring stick as to how well we are doing.

Today, I encourage you to sit down and think about what vision you have for this year. What do you want to see come to fruition? Where would you like to be in comparison to where you are now? Pray about the vision you have set, ask God if this is where He is leading you to, and ask for His help in reaching your goal for this year. Write down the vision!