Grace Poured Out
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Call to Worship: Children of God: welcome!
Welcome to this place of love and grace,
Welcome to this place of hope and perseverance.
God invites all of us to be a part of the beloved community,
God invites all of us to share in the good news:
We are welcome, just as we are. We are loved, just as we are.
In gratitude for all of this, let us worship God.
Grace poured out. The image in these slides spoke to my heart as to what it’s like to receive God’s grace just pouring out over us. Have you ever stood under water being poured down upon you, or been near a waterfall to feel the water rushing over? Have you ever had the chance to go behind a waterfall and see it from the back side where you are tucked in and watching that water as a shield in front of you? I have only seen that in movies but I think of that when we come to the cross and we stand at the foot of it spiritually, and by faith, we say I’m done living for me; I’m done living by my abilities that are finite and running dry, I want to live for You, Jesus. I want all of You to fill me and to draw from You the Living Water that bubbles up inside of me. I want to drink from Your well that never runs dry. It’s like the image on these slides, the moment we surrender and say come, fill me, God’s grace pours out and rushes over us.
It doesn’t knock us down or wash us away to drown, instead, He tucks us in behind the mighty waters of grace and keeps us safe in the shelter of His wings. His grace goes before us in every way and is sufficient to handle everything He sets before us in this life. All we need to do is come to the cross and say fill me Lord; I want You. It’s a yielded heart that releases God’s abundant and overflowing grace in our lives. It’s a trusting heart that receives His grace.
As we continue in this series of the importance of the cross, we’re going to look at the release of supernatural grace to all who believe, that comes to us through the cross. There is no other way for us to receive God’s grace but through the cross. For the cross is the pathway and emblem of God’s grace to humanity.
The apostle Paul had to learn about the sufficiency of God’s grace to carry him through life’s adventures and trials, and even deep sorrow. He was not given an easy life, he was told he would suffer greatly for Jesus’ name, but he was also given incredible revelations by God. Amazing truths made known to him, visions hard for our human minds to grasp. Paul was taken into the divine and shown the wonders of God yet told he could not speak of it to others. However, he had these visions, this knowledge and great understanding implanted in his heart and it gave him a great boldness to preach the Gospel and carry the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ into many new nations. Yet, in our humanness, when we are brought into such greatness that is kept for only a select few, there is a strong tendency for pride and haughtiness to grow within us. We can use this as leverage over others and become elitest in our hearts. God wanted Paul to know these truths for it would surely be needed to keep him going on this hard journey he had ahead of him; and to keep him focused on the eternal over the difficult earthly life he would live, to keep him in hope and even great joy for what was coming. But God knew Paul who was once Saul, and He was going to send someone to keep Paul in check, to keep him humble, and most of all to teach Paul to fully rely on God’s supernatural grace-for that is the essence of the message he was sharing. How could Paul truly teach on the Good News, if he stepped into preaching, teaching, and finding favor with others in his own abilities? How can any of us share the Gospel in truth if we are reliant on self over God’s power and grace? We can’t, not by personal testimony anyway.
In His love and grace, God caused a stumbling block for Paul, so that Paul could not boast about his own abilities and God would receive all the glory for lives transformed by Christ. As Paul surrendered and yielded at the cross, Grace poured out overflowing in his life and through his ministry as we know and read in the many books of the New Testament authored by Paul.
Paul is speaking of this life lesson in our key Scripture second letter to the church of Corinth.
In this second letter, we find that some of the Corinthians were questioning Paul’s authority and leadership. He had been away ministering in other areas and as some people do, they began to stir up trouble in Corinth. They were questioning his authority and leadership abilities. In earlier chapters, he feels he must defend the ministry entrusted to him. But here we see Paul sharing this powerful lesson God revealed to him about how God’s grace works in our lives. The point was, that it’s not about Paul’s abilities; it’s about the power of Christ flowing through him as he yields to the Spirit at work in him We see Paul has every right to speak with authority as he does; and so that God receives the glory and not man. Through his travels, we learn he was sent one obstacle after another to point him back to God’s grace and all-sufficient provision, through the cross. This is how God sealed this truth of the cross deep in Paul’s heart and this is what He wants us to understand also.
Listen to Paul’s words and experience. See how your heart might resonate today. Hear what God speaks and choose to walk in His truth as He desires you to.
2 Corinthians 12: 2-10 NIV
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is the cross that releases God’s supernatural grace in our lives, not how well we live by His Law.
Christianity is not a set of rules- religion is. We can forget this or wrongly believe to be a good, solid Christian it’s about how well we follow God’s rules. But rules don’t save us. Rules don’t make us righteous-only Christ can through His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave.
Christianity is about choosing to let Christ live in us and through us- it’s about a union with Christ. It’s about being led by the Holy Spirit and having a constant and ongoing relationship with the Living God, not trying to please Him by seeing how many rules we can follow. On a side note, if we truly yield to Christ and let the Spirit guide us, we will always act in the will of God. And it will be far easier than striving to do it in our own ability.
We receive Christ by faith; by believing in Him as the Savior who died on the cross for us, who conquered death and rose again; who sits at the right hand of the Father for all eternity as the King of kings and Lord of lords. We believe all this by faith. Yet we are so tempted to grab back on to rules and what happens is we let rules take a higher place in our heart than listening to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
It is supernatural grace bestowed on us that allows us to gain the righteousness of God through Christ’s death on the cross. Let’s make sure we have the right focus in our hearts on how we gain and retain the righteousness of God.
- The Law Won’t Achieve Righteousness.
Galatians 2:21 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
We can’t improve on the Law; it is perfect and good. But if the Law could provide means for righteousness there would be no need for Jesus; no need for the cross; and no need for a Savior.
Galatians 3: 11-12 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.
Here in lies the problem when we become law-focused over cross-focused- His Word says the person who does these things will live by them.” But we don’t consistently. So, we either 100% live by the Law that is perfect and good-which is impossible for mankind to do- or we face the penalty of not following the law and living sin-which is death. Enter in Jesus and the cross.
The Law was never meant as a means to salvation. The Law will never produce freedom. In fact, what it does produce is legalism. This creates a self-righteous heart and one might begin to believe “our ways are right” and “we are the righteous ones are not.” Instead of unity, legalism produces division and this is why many church splits happen. We must always be careful to check our hearts and motives when we feel or hear comments like this there are comments like this brewing; there is a clinging to the Law over the cross.
The Law was set in place to help us become aware of our sins and to teach us what is good, holy, and righteous living. It shows us our depravity apart from God.
Romans 3:20 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Romans 3: 21-24 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God does not accept righteousness by our own effort. The message of the cross is to bring each of us to the end of ourselves. We are to come to the end of living in our own wisdom, our own ability and power, striving to achieve our own righteousness. Because the truth is, in God’s Kingdom our power of any kind is completely inadequate apart from Christ.
- The Cross-Coming to the End of Self.
1 Corinthians 1:25 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
This is the message of the cross. To those who don’t believe it is foolish that God would send His only beloved Son to die a horrific criminal’s death. It is the epitome of weakness to the non-believer for a man to be hanging on a cross awaiting his final breath-helpless in every way.
But to those who believe, the cross is the very power and wisdom of God. Only to those who believe, can we see this foolishness as pure wisdom beyond our full comprehension and in Jesus’ weakness, the ultimate power to defeat death and the enemy once and for all. We only enter His grace when we come to the end of ourselves.
Paul had to learn about the sufficiency of God’s supernatural grace, and he was only able to experience this fullness when he was at the end of his rope-the end of himself.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
God will cause or allow things that will bring you to the end of yourself. Don’t resist it. Accept it and see His grace in it for you. He doesn’t want you living day to day in your own efforts, but in His power.
When we get this we truly see His grace pouring out to us in our weakness, and we know we are more than OK because His grace really is sufficient- providing exactly what we need when we need it… we can rejoice in these times like Paul did!
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Matthew 5:3 MSG 3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.
God might just send you a “thorn in your flesh” to bring you to the end of your rope.
- Grace- in the Thorn of the Flesh.
2 Corinthians 12:7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Everywhere Paul went to minister the Gospel message, riots would instantly break out; he was thrown in maximum security prison without even a trial; he was shipwrecked multiple times and the oddest things would happen over and over again. Why? God allowed a “thorn in his flesh” a tormentor- a messenger of satan. Why?
Because it would be easy for Paul to become conceited and to begin striving in his own ability. He wanted to make sure Paul was reliant fully on Him, His power, His wisdom, and His favor so that God would get the glory, not Paul.
Can you relate to this? Is there something you have been begging God to take away from your life or to make some path smooth that has been so hard?
Do you realize “No” is an answer to our prayers too?
In His amazing grace, He pours out, that He truly knows what we need and what will harm us. He knows our tendencies and our weaknesses, and in His grace, as He did with Paul, He might say I’m not going to remove that, for if you keep this, you will learn to draw from my grace that is sufficient. You will come to experience the fullness of My grace, that you would never know if you continued to operate in your power or wisdom. And you will see My grace pour out like a rushing waterfall in your life as you rely on Me.
When Paul made this statement “a thorn in my flesh” he was referring back to what God stated through Joshua in the Old Testament regarding the total removal of all Canaanites from the nations they would enter and possess. As we have discussed God told them to completely destroy these nations because if they let them stay among them, they would cause their hearts to turn away from God and worship other gods.
Joshua 23:13 NKJV 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.
They did not fully drive out these nations and they did in fact turn their hearts away and they became Israel just as God professed they would. So to Paul, this messenger and torment was to him the same- “a thorn in his flesh” as the Canaanites were to Israel.
Did you know sometimes we do this very thing in our lives today? We might be living with a “thorn in our flesh” because we have allowed Canaanites to hang around when we should have cleared them out long ago. Is there something you need to clean up and deal with as God asked you to? Once you do, that thorn might very well go away. Obedience matters for us to live in the blessings and peace of God. A humbled heart paves the way for obedience.
James 4:6 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
How do we live holy and righteous? It’s not about struggling to live by the rules. It’s about yielding. Not about our effort but our union with Christ.
There is a story of a lady who was admired for her holy life. When another Christian asked her, “sister how do you deal with temptation?” She replied, “When the devil knocks at the door, I just let Jesus answer.”
Grace begins where human ability ends. This all happens at and through the cross. Let us meet God there.
Conclusion: One purpose of the cross is to bring us to the end of ourselves so we give way for God’s grace to flow. The cross is stronger than man’s strength and wiser than man’s wisdom. We must willingly come to the end of our own abilities, so God might provide a release of supernatural grace in our life completely from Him.
Announcements: Parent mtg following service next Sun-29th.
Bday’s: Charlie Biddle 10/25
Final Blessing: Psalm 85 states: Psalm 85 says, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” As we go forth today, may we go in love, in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in peace. Amen.