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Thursday, June 6, 2013
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"God's Sufficient Grace"
"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" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Doug and Barb Miller have a stirring testimony of the tremendous power of God's sufficient grace in overcoming adversity. In 2000 they accepted the call to serve as missionaries in Malawi and moved to Africa along with their five children. On September 15, 2001, four days following the 9/11 terrorist attack in America, Barb had a bicycle accident, falling off a bridge into an 18 feet deep ravine. She broke her back which resulted in her being a paraplegic. She received all of her medical care on the mission field.
We heard the Millers speak in a church up the road from our house two years after the accident. It was a wonderfully wholesome sight to see the five Miller children sitting from the oldest to the youngest on the platform. As a family they shared of God's help in overcoming a trial they would hardly have imagined and as a family recited from memory a lengthy Scripture portion from Romans 8 that assures us that we can never be separated from God's love. The Millers have had a lot of overcoming, but testified to the sufficiency of God's sustaining grace. They continue in missions service now nearly 12 years later. Interestingly one of their children, now grown, attends the church where my brother Pat serves as pastor in the Lehigh Valley.
We gain much from considering the wonders of God's sufficient grace in the time of greatest need. The story of the Christian martyr Thomas Hauker (England, 1555) illustrates the sufficiency of the grace of God in our hour of need. Thomas Hauker was a bright, well-favored, and handsome young gentleman who refused to deny or renounce his personal relationship with Christ. For this he was sentenced to being burned at the stake.
"Thomas", his friend lowered his voice so as not to be heard by the guard. "I have to ask you a favor. I need to know if what the others say about the grace of God is true. Tomorrow, when they burn you at the stake, if the pain is tolerable and your mind is still at peace, lift your hands above your head. Do it right before you die. Thomas I have to know." Thomas Hauker whispered to his friend, "I will."
On the day of execution, the crowd was abuzz with Thomas’s promise. As he was chained to the stake, he spoke quietly and with great grace to the men who laid the wood. Then he closed his eyes and the fire was kindled. Thomas continued to preach to those around him, but soon, for the roar of the flames, he could not. The fire burned a long time, but Hauker remained motionless. His skin was burnt to a crisp and his fingers were gone. Everyone watching supposed he was dead.
Suddenly, miraculously, Hauker lifted his hands, still on fire, over his head. He reached them up to the living God and then, with great rejoicing, clapped them together three times. The people there broke into shouts of praise and applause. Hauker's friend had his answer. Does the story of this godly martyr not convict us? How often we whine “I can’t take it anymore.” How often we catch ourselves expressing frustration over the smallest trial. How often we overstate our problems and underestimate God's promise to enable us to bear up under the trial or weakness. When you think you can’t take much more, remember Thomas Hauker's example of God's sufficient grace.
The apostle Paul received tremendous assurance from the daily text after a time of prayer that seemed to go unanswered. He was dealing with his "thorn in the flesh." Much speculation has been made regarding the nature of this thorn, with a variety of interpretations offered. However Paul simply chose not to disclose the details, although it's likely his original readers would have already known, due to their personal association with Paul.
Many commentators believe he was referring to a recurring physical affliction. George Swinnock wrote, "Sanctified sickness is far better than unsanctified soundness." Warren Wiersbe observes, "God did not give Paul any explanations; instead, He gave him a promise: 'My grace is sufficient for thee.' We do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith strengthens hope. Paul claimed God’s promise and drew on the grace that was offered to him; this turned seeming tragedy into triumph. God did not change the situation by removing the affliction; He changed it by adding a new ingredient: grace."
This verse of assurance has brought comfort to countless believers through the church age. I recall the day before my father had open-heart surgery in 1997 that he had read this passage and it spoke directly to him. We generally interpret the thorn to be representative of a trial. I consider the lack of specific identity by Paul regarding the nature of his thorn to be a part of God's design. For our trials truly take on many forms and God's grace is sufficient for each of them!
Do you have a "thorn in the flesh?" God's grace is absolutely sufficient to sustain you through the trial at hand. Paul kept his faith and so can you. In fact you will be stronger as a result of enduring this trial and God will be glorified through your endurance.
When the questions of life go unanswered,
When there's none that respond to your plea,
There's an echo that keeps on resounding,
My grace is sufficient for thee.
Let us offer our praises to Jesus
Till in heaven His presence we see.
Never failing to trust in the promise,
"My grace is sufficient for thee". *
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is in our weaknesses that Your power is made most visible in our lives. The "thorn in our flesh" is representative of those trials common to all followers of Christ. We call out for deliverance and yet endure the discomfort and affliction as a true soldier of the faith, all the while being "joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer." Because of the blood of Christ we can overcome the opposition and triumph in our faith to the glory of God the Father in whose name we praise. Amen.
Some photos from our journey yesterday
Favorite photo not taken yesterday! As we traveled east from Bird in Hand to Intercourse PA along Rt 340 we passed an open buggy heading west with an Amish family going fishing, long fishing poles rising up from the buggie!
Brooksyne has been intrigued by this large flowering bush in front of a barn we pass on Strasburg Pike each week.
We stopped to buy some fresh produce from the Glenwood produce stand near Martindale PA. They were getting ready to plant apple gourds. This particular branch of Mennonite uses steel-wheeled tractors. Notice the young boy peeking around the back. This is very labor intensive work and the children in these groups learn at an early age the responsibility of work! More living history.
Driving through Lebanon County we saw lots of hay harvest activity and the always pleasant sight of a fully loaded hay wagon.
I regularly visit Linford, John and Mel Kurtz, three brothers who work at a company where we serve as chaplains. They have lunch together each day in the shipping office where Mel works. We calculate that they have over 100 years of service together for the same company. I suppose that's not something you hear about everyday in the workplace!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"His Grace Is Sufficient" Video Shane and Shane
"His Grace Is Sufficient" Video The Sensational Nightingales
"My Grace Will Be Enough" Video Daved Smallwood
"My Grace Is Sufficient" Video Bruce & Sammy Frye
"My Grace Is Sufficient For You " Video
"My Grace is Sufficient For Thee" Video
"Your Grace is Enough" Video Chris Tomlin
Doug and Barb Miller's website
"Finding Peace In Life-Altering Accident" Doug & Barb Miller testimony videos Part 1 of 2 Part 2 of 2
This morning I shared with Mike, a friend who works in a company we serve, concerning today's topic. He suggested this testimony of overcoming. Video
Precept commentary notes on 2 Corinthians 12:9 (Quotes in today's message comes from this study site.)
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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