Praise for So Great a Grace

2 Corinthians 12: So Great a Grace: Praise, Promise, & Prayer

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This Week’s Scripture:

“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, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Did you know, in the King James Version of the Bible, the word grace appears 170 times in 159 verses? People seek it, receive it, and describe it more in action than word. Paul’s description seems understated when compared to how grace is revealed.

The apostle John says Jesus came—

“full of grace and truth …

of His fulness we have all received,

and grace upon grace …

For the Law was given through Moses;

grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ …

He has explained Him(God).”

(Excerpts from John 1:14, 16-18, NASB)

Vine’s Dictionary uses the words pleasure, delight, kindness, goodwill, Divine favor, and joy to define God’s grace—it is his inherent character to give gifts to his people. He delights in giving; It brings him pleasure to show us kindness. So much so, James writes—

“But He gives a greater grace …”

and reminds us,

“Every good thing bestowed

and every perfect gift is from above,

coming down from the Father of lights,

with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

James 4:6; 1:17, NASB.

How appropriate at this season we should take a look at God’s greater grace, His greatest gift, His perfect gift, sufficient for all our need.

Grace’s Promise & Sufficiency:

“For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him should not perish,

but have eternal life.”

John 3:16, NASB

In Praise of God’s Grace:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  • who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, in love
  • He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

to the praise of the glory of His grace;

which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

  • In Him we have redemption through His blood,
  • the forgiveness of our trespasses,
  • according to the riches of His grace which,
  • He lavished upon us.
  • In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will,
  • according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” Ephesians1: 3-9, NASB

For Thought: Without the sufficient grace of God what do you really have to celebrate in this Christmas season or any time? His grace is sufficient and available. He delights in giving—ask and receive.

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, may those who do not know the grace of God reach out to him today, knowing we can—

“draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,

that we may receive mercy and

may find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16.

May we all,

“be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,”

2Timothy 2:1.

And may—

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

be with you all.”

2 Corinthians 13:14, NASB

May you all have a grace filled Christmas!

And if you don’t celebrate Christmas,

may each day be filled with the fullness of of God’s grace!

God’s Grace for the Writer’s Heart

The Writer’s Heart: God’s Grace

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My inbox flashed my editor’s email—the second round of edits had arrived. As I read her instructions, I realized the work she put into trying to make me a better writer—one whose message would resonate with my readers. She saw my weaknesses and encouraged me to grow stronger.

Would I be up to the task? The answer, not on my own.  But as I pondered and prayed for God to be my help, he answered—

“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,

that the power of Christ may dwell in me.’”

2 Corinthians 12:9

His grace has supplied me with the publisher and editors to come along side and strengthen me where I am weak, and the power of Christ to supply all I need to bring the work to completion—a work that’s meant to produce fruit to his glory.

For Thought: When have you been tempted to lay down the work of ministry God has given you? What keeps you going?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your all-sufficient grace. Thank you, for those you put in our lives to strengthen and encourage us. May, we as writers, remember the calling you put in our hearts, knowing your gracious gifts are our strength and the power behind the words we write.

Old Friends

IMG_06062 Corinthians 12: An Old Friend

My daily routine, when I remain faithful to it, includes a walk down the country road my house sits near. My daughter ducks her head as another car passes by. I wave and smile.

“Mom, who was that?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. With those dark windows and the sun’s glare, it’s next to impossible to recognize who’s inside. But it’s good to be friendly.”

She shakes her head. We keep walking and I keep waving.

And yes, I greet strangers in the stores, too. You never know when you might meet a new friend who could become an old friend—one who knows you from the inside out, stands with you no matter what, and is a constant source of encouragement and strength. This week’s scripture is one of those old friends I like to visit often. For when “I can’t” tempts me, my old friend reminds me why, “I can.”

This Week’s Scripture:

“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,

that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

For Thought: What is a scripture you run to often—one you find in your thoughts just when you need it?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your all-sufficient grace that covers the many times my spirit becomes weary and my strength leaves me wanting. Thank you for the power of Christ in me that whispers in my ear, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me”—another old KJV friend.”

Abundant Grace

2 Corinthians 8 & 9: Abundant Graceblogcross-792538__340

This Week’s Scripture:

“Now, brethren,

we wish to make known to you the grace of God

which has been given in the churches of Macedonia …

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that though He was rich,

yet for your sake He became poor,

so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (8:1,9)

“I didn’t know I was poor until I started to school.” Tom, my husband, was raised on a farm which provided enough food for his huge family. His and his siblings’ playground consisted of eighty acres of fields, wooded hills, and a creek with a pool for swimming. They also had a pond, but I don’t believe I would have swam in it, because the cows did.

When Tom started school his eyes were opened to a whole new world—what things others had that he didn’t. His thanksgiving began to fade—until he grew up and understood what made one rich.

For Thought: How different would our lives be if, as we begin this Thanksgiving week, we started a practice of thanking God for the grace he has given us through Jesus Christ—making us rich beyond our imagination? What would happen if our thanksgiving became more than lip service and truly abounded in our hearts?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us be mindful of the abundant grace you have given us—and the riches that are ours through Jesus’ sacrifice. May our thanksgiving, our abundance, compel us to share you and your gifts with others. Help us remember, once we were poor, but now you have made us rich for the sharing.

God’s Treasure

2 Corinthians 6: Our Greatest Treasure

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“And working together with Him,

we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—”

(6:1)NASB

Treasure hunters give their lives and resources to uncover, mine, and search the earth  for that one treasure that will make them rich. I think we all have a bit of a treasure hunter’s heart as we seek out the perfect job, spouse, house, you fill in the blank— to fulfill our dreams. If we’re not careful, our search leads us away from the greatest treasure that we already possess as children of the heavenly Father—the grace of God.

“For God, who said,

“Light shall shine out of darkness,”

is the One who has shone in our hearts

to give the light of the knowledge

of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

that the surpassing greatness of the power

may be of God and not of ourselves;”

2 Corinthians 4:5,6

Christ in us, our glory, is our Promise of Grace for Strength:

“For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God …

And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness …

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me …

The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace … “

The next promise was spoken to the Lord’s people, Israel. We, too are the Lord’s people and of the promised seed of Abraham through Jesus Christ. God’s grace—

  • “gives strength to the weary,
  • And to him who lacks might He increases power …
  • Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
  • And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
  • When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you,

For I am the LORD your God,

The Holy One of Israel,

your Savior…” 

Our Praise for God’s Grace:

“I love Thee, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,

And I am saved from my enemies …

But as for me, I will hope continually,

And will praise Thee yet more and more.

My mouth shall tell of Thy righteousness,

And of Thy salvation all day long;

for I do not know the sum of them.

I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God;

I will make mention of Thy righteousness alone …

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to Thee;

And my soul, which Thou hast redeemed.” 

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your all-sufficient abundant grace which strengthens us each day. Strengthen us in the power of your might to proclaim your salvation in the hard times and in the easy times. May we come before your throne seeking your grace for strength when we have a need, and leave filled with thanksgiving. May all see you are our greatest treasure hidden in our heart, and revealed by your light in us.


(Ephesians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9a; Philippians 4:13; Psalm 29:11;)(Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 43:1b-3a)(Psalm 18:1-3; Psalm 71:14-16,23.) All scriptures are from NASB95

The List Goes On

2 Corinthians 6: And the List Goes On

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“And working together with Him,

we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—”

(6:1)NASB

In our last post, the apostle Paul pleaded with us, as God’s servants, not to render God’s grace useless in our lives, not to bring shame on the ministry of Christ, but to exemplify God’s grace in everything.

I know believers who desire to serve God, show His love to others, and be an encouraging voice. Yet, every time they take a step forward, they are knocked back two—miles not steps. Their lives are filled with pit falls, but they keep rising out of the pit stronger than before. This also describes Paul who knew what he was talking about when he told the Corinthian church—

“but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God,

in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses …

And the list goes on for six more verses as Paul graphically shows everything means everything—

  • in what the world throws at us—holding strong in every kind of trouble, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonment, facing angry mobs, being worked to exhaustion, enduring sleepless nights, and hunger;
  • in our character—be pure, growing in knowledge and patience, being kind, living by the Spirit, and loving as Christ loves us;
  • in ministry—speaking the word of truth, relying on the power of God; having as our weapon righteousness;
  • in what others think of us—whether we are praised or put down, slandered or spoken highly of, called hypocrites but are true, considered a nobody or a somebody, as dead but living, as worthy of punishment but protected from death;
  •  in our response to all of the everything—having sorrow but filled with joy, being poor while making others rich.

Paul ends the endless list of things reminding us that we are—

as having nothing but possessing all things

If you need refreshing about the all things, read 2 Corinthians 5. It contains the beginning of another endless list.

Speaking of lists, the apostle Peter adds reason to Paul’s everything list.

“to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

seeing that His divine power has granted to us

everything pertaining to life and godliness,

through the true knowledge of Him who called us

by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us

His precious and magnificent promises,

in order that by them

you might become partakers of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

2 Peter 1:1-4, NASB

What kept Paul and Peter going in the face of a culture and people who despised them and their message? The same thing that keeps us taking another step forward when facing a constant barrage of trials.

“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God;

if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this,

          • that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all,
          • so that they who live might no longer live for themselves,
          • but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:11-15, NASB

We do it because Jesus did it out of love for us.

For Thought: What keeps you going— when it would be easier to quit—when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels going nowhere?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have supplied all we need to become all you designed us to be, to do all you have ordained for us to do. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus who did it all for us. When we are weak, be our strength. When we are tempted to quit, help us remember the love of Christ that went the distance. As you died for us, help us live for you.

For the Writer’s Heart

For the Writer’s Heart:

“And working together with Him,

we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—”

(6:1)NASB

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“Will Daddy be home for Christmas, Mommy?” The little girl’s pixie-face, framed in blonde braids, glowed brighter than the star on top of the Christmas tree. She was unaware of the gifts he would bring for her and her older brother. She just wanted Daddy home. Imagine her joy when Daddy arrived home with a gift for her and her brother tucked under each arm.

That little girl—all grown up with grandchildren and a great-grandson—still has the doll Daddy gifted her with that Christmas. The gift was not given or received in vain. For the worth of the gift wasn’t found in the doll but the love that brought it to her.

As writers, the business of writing has the potential to overshadow the grace God has given us to pen words that extend his love to our readers. God has graced us with the privilege of giving gifts of his love by calling us  to partner with him to tell his story of love to the world. Each word we write, each edit we work through, each piece of marketing we labor over, are proof of the love that compels us to keep on telling God’s story. God’s grace is not in vain to us as we give him our best.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren,

be steadfast, immovable,

always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Grace and Soap

2 Corinthians 6: Soap and GraceIMG_3508[1]

This Week’s Scripture:

“And working together with Him,

we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—”

(6:1)NASB

“Here, Ruby wanted me to bring this to you.” I took the little brown box from my husband, opened it, and let the contents slide onto my hand. My quizzical smile was met with his shrug. We turned it this way and another way …

“Is it to hold our razors?” I tried to hanging a straight razor on it.

“I don’t think so,” commented Tom as the razor slid sideways.

After a few more failed guesses, we set it aside. The gift had been given and received but to what purpose? One gift we never want to receive in vain is God’s grace.

The apostle Paul wrote about all the good things we receive by grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ—new life, purpose, aim, work. You can check it out in 2 Corinthians 5 and in my blog, “A New Wardrobe”. Paul urges the Corinthians to use the gracious gifts of God for their intended purpose—that we might give—

“no cause for offense in anything,

so that the ministry will not be discredited,

but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God …”

(verses 3 & 4) NASB

In case you’re wondering, we asked Ruby about the gift’s purpose. “It’s a soap dish that sits on the wall or tub with the attached suction cup. See, ” she explained, “its design lets the water drain off the dish so the soap doesn’t get soft.” It works great and is being used for the purpose it was created.

For Thought: For what purpose has God’s gracious gift been given to you? How are you using it for the purpose it was given?

Our Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as we begin another day, may we remember the grace you have given us in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. May we live it out as we give ourselves to working with Him in the ministry of the gospel. That we bear much fruit to your glory.

Are You Favored?

In pranced my grown daughter striking a model’s pose. Her arms swept over her torso with a grace I didn’t know she possessed. She tilted her head back smiling as if revealing knowledge withheld from others. She glanced from one older brother to the next as she displayed her newest t-shirt proclaiming, “I am my dad’s favorite.” I will let you imagine the dialogue that followed. It wasn’t pretty but it was funny.

The impact of the t-shirt would have  been greater if her dad had bought it for her instead of her buying it for herself.

Unlike my daughter, Mary didn’t need to announce the Lord God’s favor in her life. He sent an angel to declare it. Now, that carried impact.

“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured,

the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying…” Luke 1:28-29.

The Greek,CHARITOO, translates into favoured and is  derived from the word CHARIS meaning grace. Further explanation from Vine’s Expository Dictionary reveals not Mary’s grace but God’s grace given to Mary.

As a follower of Christ, you are favored in much the same way as Mary? No, the Lord’s favor doesn’t manifest itself the same way in you. But you are the recipient of His grace.christmas-2874137__340

How do you know Mary and  Christ’s followers are highly favored?

  • The word states it.

For Mary;

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favour with God.”

For Christ’s followers;

 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Eph. 2:8.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2Tim. 1:9.

  • There is evidence of God’s grace in Mary…

God is with her.

“…Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee…”

”…And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matt. 1:23.

  • And in the Lord’s followers:

God is with us.

“And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee, he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as he have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”Heb. 13:5

  • God entrusted Mary with the gospel, the living Word.

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35..

  • God entrusts His follower with the gospel.

“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” 1Thess. 2:4.

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 1Tim. 1:12-14.

  • Mary was made worthy to suffer for the gospel.

“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34,35.

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother…When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother…” John 19:25-27.

  • The follower’s call to suffer:

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake:” Phil. 1:29

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling…For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2Tim. 1:8,9a,12.

  • Mary’s response to God’s favor:

“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46,47

  • Our response to God’s favor:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:2.

  • Mary responded to God’s grace with obedience and praise.
  • What is your response to the grace God offers you?