Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Truly Amazing Grace

As many of you know, I have been struggling with illness since the end of December. It has caused me to miss recording some of my messages and kept me from doing a lot more in our ministry. I can deal with the issues, but, when it comes to the ministry, I am heartbroken over the fact I cannot do more in the Kingdom. When I begin to feel that way, I remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12. I have used this passage a lot because it means a lot to me right now. Starting with verse 8 and concluding in verse 10. Paul had this to say about his plight in life, "8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Yes, I need to find strength in my weakness and learn that the only way for me to have true victory in Jesus is to humble myself and allow him to work in my life. It is difficult to do when there are so many things going on at the same time. My illness is only one issue. My wife and I are facing more problems like financial problems due to the crushing weight of hospital bills. We have medical insurance, but it only covers so much. The doctors tell me that my recovery will be lengthy to say the least. Although I can work, I am still facing more appointments and visits, more medicine and more medical bills. 

Like a good provider for my family, I am concerned and very worried. I often find myself in my hospital room just worrying about those bills and the crippling debt we may be facing. All of these things come to mind as I lie in a hospital bed waiting for my next visit from a nurse or doctor. I sometimes wonder why God has placed us in this situation. Until all of this happened, I was doing well and my family had its needs met. In just a quick moment at 2 AM on December 28th, things changed and started us along this new path.

I found myself questioning God's will in our lives as we struggled to get through this. There have been moments when things seemed to take a turn for the better and then rapidly changed. Those downturns have been the most troubling for me. It seemed like I had the carpet yanked out from under my feet. Just as I was feeling better, I received another kick in the stomach and down I would go. When I reflect on the last seventy-two hours of my life, I realize that things changed so very quickly and I was now in the process of dealing with financial burdens of medical care and the loss of income. Painful as it seems I am trying to desperately hold on to my faith and to allow God to work in my life even during these trying times.

As I did some reading yesterday, I ran across a story of single mother who had lost her job and was struggling to find something. Finally, in all of her job searching, she found a job and began to interview for it. Everything seemed perfect; however, after her last interview, she didn't get the job. Now, she is facing monstrous debts from using credit cards and has nothing left in savings. Her struggles are not new ones. I know that there are others reading this message and saying, "I know exactly how she feels." We all have our struggles or, as some would say, our crosses to bear. Difficulties seem to dog our steps at every turn and it may even seem that those difficulties stalk us like a ravenous pack of wolves ready to pounce on the weakened prey.

Think about the words of Peter when he tells us in 1 Peter 5, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." Our difficulties are exactly like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Lions do not attack the strong. They go after the weak and helpless. They look very closely at a herd of animals and pick out those that will just give up or are just too weak to struggle.

Peter gives us the keys to how to remain strong when all may seem lost. Let us look at verses 6 through 7 of that same chapter. Peter tells us, "6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."

By humbling ourselves before the Lord and admitting our fears, uncertainties and doubts to Him, He will raise us up in honor and give us that victory over our difficulties at the right time. The other part is to give our cares to the Lord and know without any doubt
that He loves us dearly. No matter what we face, we can always depend on the Lord. The Lord will provide all that we need. One of His holy names is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord is our provider. He provides all that we need. 

When we fully embrace all of Peter's and Paul's words, we know that we do not have to worry about a thing in our lives. God will provide the way out of every situation. He will give us the grace to endure and the strength to carry on even when all may seem lost. Worrying does not solve problems. It makes them worse. We are just adding to the problems and no amount of worrying is going to solve the problems we face or lessen their burdens in our lives. 

Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew, sums up what we should do when we begin to worry about things. Starting with verse 31 of chapter 6, Jesus tells us, "31 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

God already knows what we each need our lives. We just have to have faith in God and not worry about things. God will provide for our needs. When it comes to tomorrow, God knows exactly what we need for that day as well. Once we can learn to humble ourselves, seek His will in our lives, live righteously, confess our weaknesses and know that God is truly Jehovah-Jireh, we can then stand firm in His grace, a grace that is completely and entirely sufficient for each of us.

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