His Grace Is Sufficient
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Sunday 10th August 2014
The message I am sharing with you today is a responsive one to the messages we've heard during 'Maximise Life 2014 – Expand, Limits Gone'. It is recorded several times in scriptures that without God's strength, there is nothing we can accomplish on our own. However, God affords us this privilege of tapping into His all sufficient grace. His grace abounds for everything you may be going through personally and to bring us as a corporate entity into the blessings of enlargement. Here is a portion of the foundation scriptures in the Amplified Version: But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness (Verse 9).
A version of Paul's closing prayer, conveying grace to his readers is found in 1 Corinthians 16:23: 'May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you' (NLT). The same prayer can be read in 1 Thessalonians 5:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:18. Grace is so fundamental to us, so much that we cannot live without it. We've been called by God into a life of grace, and as such we must lay down any hint of trying to make things happen in our own strength. Rather we must live in the provision of what God has already finished for us. This is what this season is all about. We began this year with the promise from God to expand and enlarge us, and what these last few days has highlighted is the fact that we have now journeyed from one realm to an higher realm. It is wisdom to maximally embrace this season of grace that we've been introduced to during 'Maximise Life 2014'.
From our scriptural reference for the year in Isaiah 54, we read about God's promise to the nation of Israel in verse 1; "Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman," says the LORD". Verse 3 continues with a promise of expansion to the right and to the left with descendants inheriting the earth. By inference, these words are God's promise for our church in this year. As you already know, God only begins what He has already concluded in the realm of the Spirit. Besides, God's thoughts are as good as His words and His action. So in essence, God's promise to expand us as a church has already taken place. Hence, we must now walk and live in the realities of this promise. Our response, as highlighted in Isaiah 54:2 should be one of faith to what God has already decided.
Taking a look at our foundation scriptures in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Bible theologians have debated over the years, in trying to pinpoint what exactly Apostle Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' was. However, what we can conclude is that Paul had a challenge which he believed God to remove. This challenge was not as a result of a sin; we must avoid judging anyone based on the situation they may be facing. He prayed to God three times asking for this challenge to be removed, and God's response was simply, 'My Grace is sufficient for you'. We can deduce that God was refocusing Apostle Paul's gaze, away from his experience, anointing or abilities to His grace. Again, the corollary is also true for us all; we must focus solely on God, regardless of whatever challenges that may be confronting us. Why? It's simple, the solution to all our challenges is found in God's grace.
The word 'sufficient' means to 'possess an unfailing strength'. God's grace can never fail you, and it is all you will ever need. Grace is the answer, not your experience, expertise, wisdom, work or philosophies. It is not your qualifications or professionalism. Grace is the game changer; it is God's power residing in you to achieve what you cannot do in your own strength.
Paul goes further to highlight God's strength made perfect in our weaknesses. Once he caught this revelation, Paul was able to boldly declare 'Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong' (V 9-10). God desires to replace your weaknesses with His strength, your inabilities with His power. However, you must connect with His grace. In our strength we cannot achieve much if anything at all. Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 3:5: 'Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God' (AMP).
Let's take a look at two bible characters who exemplified this in scripture. Firstly, Apostle Peter as recorded in Acts 12:5-10 was arrested and kept in prison by Herod, while the church prayed for him. The bible records that Peter was sleeping in between two soldiers, with his hands and feet fastened. Isn't it interesting that Peter could sleep in that condition, when it was apparent that He was soon going to be killed by Herod? Peter must have realized that coming out of that prison alive was simply going to take God's grace and power. It must have occurred to him that if God was watching over him, there was no need to stay awake!
Secondly, we can take another cue from the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They had been arrested for preaching in Philippi, having delivered a girl possessed by the spirit of divination. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, they decided to praise God. Here is verse 25 and 26: 'But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened'. Again, Paul and Silas depended on God's grace in their hour of need. Can I encourage you to embrace God's grace in its totality?
As I pondered over the messages on grace that we received during 'Maximise Life 14', I have realized that it is not enough to know that grace is available to you, but to walk in that grace. Here are three things to bear in mind to fully maximise the life of grace.
• Live in the consciousness of the finished work of Christ: You must never allow your heart and mind to drift away from what Christ has already accomplished for you. The enemy will at various times work to test your resolve, and your response must be that of a victor. What Jesus has done is not subject to what you may be feeling or experiencing with your natural senses. Your healing, deliverance and wholeness has been procured once and for all. Isaiah 53:5 puts it this way: 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed'. Ephesians 2:4-9 underscores this message of grace and the love of Christ for us. Here are verses 4 and 5 in the Amplified version: 'But God — so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation)'.
You must be secure in the grace of God delivered to you. Based on our best efforts, we would never have merited God's favour, hence the reason why Christ took our place. Now, you must live in this consciousness.
• Live in the consciousness of your identity in Christ: You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and as such you are now an heir and joint heirs with Christ. Here is 1 Corinthians 5:21; 'For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him'. You now have access to everything that God has made available for His children.
• Walk in Faith: Faith is the access that you need to live in the blessings that God's grace affords you. Here is Romans 5:2 'Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Now all you need, for instance your health, your prosperity, joy, blessings, wisdom and all resources you may ever desire from God is found in His grace. You must believe that you have this prepared for you already, and shun those things that you see in the natural that may want to distract you from focusing on your blessings.
In rounding up, I pray that we will all live in the consciousness of what Christ has already done, walk in it and live by faith in accessing all that has already been provided for us (Amen). God is taking us on a journey, and I believe that in the days to come, we will begin to experience phenomenal blessings of God's glory among us, as we choose to access His grace.
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