Tailor-Made Grace for Everything We Face (Part Two)
(Written with Brenda Brown)
In part one of this devotional focused on the power of grace, we explained, “Just as we expected and experienced sufficient, converting grace when we came to Christ and were transformed by His power, so we should live with confident expectation that His provision will be enough every day. Grace is not just a past-tense salvation miracle. It is a present-tense sanctification wonder. We can live each day expecting a fresh phenomenon of grace in our lives.”
Here are a few more practical thoughts to help us apply the power of “tailor-made grace” to everything we face.
Recognize Grace. Understand it!
I like to define grace as “God doing for me, in me, and through me what only He can do through the person and power of Jesus Christ.”
This grace is not a crutch for the lazy or irresponsible. Grace works in conjunction with my conscientious efforts, not instead of them. Paul wrote of this when he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Grace and laziness are incompatible. Grace is not about a “let go and let God” passivity on our part. Rather, it meets us to do what we cannot do while we do what we are able to do. Every effort is but an overflow of constant provisions of His grace. It may sound like a riddle. In reality, it is the two-sided coin of empowering grace.
Biblical grace ultimately works to make me like Jesus, not to make life easier. Grace is not an escape to some leisurely world where life is safe, pressures have disappeared, and all is flowers and fun. Grace is a deliverance from the devastating powers of this world’s allure and deceptions. As Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Do you want to see someone who understands grace? Look for the fruit of clear-minded, consecrated Christ-likeness in their lives.
Grace works for His glory, not mine. Ephesians 2:7-9 reminds us that He is lavishing grace upon us in order to demonstrate the exceeding riches of His grace, for His own glory. None of this is attributable to our righteous “works” lest any person should boast.
Maximize Grace. Embrace Weakness!
Jesus taught Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul learned this lesson so powerfully that he proclaimed, “Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
Paul embraced and wanted us to grasp the truth that grace and self-sufficiency are incompatible. He also came to understand that weakness is not a circumstance, it is a choice! His thorn in the flesh started as a circumstance that drove him to the throne of grace. It became a choice that opened the floodgates of grace to his heart. He gloried in his weakness as a deliberate default in his approach to life. Paul knew this was the doorway to the consistent reception of supernatural empowerment.
A Wise Tailor. A Great Physician.
Again, all of this grace is tailor-made, flowing from the provision of our All-Wise, All-Sufficient God. In the trenches of pastoral ministry I’ve witnessed extravagant displays of saving grace, guiding grace, sustaining grace, unifying grace, and suffering grace. I’ve marveled at specialized grace arriving seldom early but never late. The beautiful manifestations of His undeserved enabling have supported the confused, the depressed, the broken, the troubled teen, the lonely single adult, the barren couple, the stalled marriage, the empty-nester, and the pain-afflicted senior adult.
If you’ve ever been hospitalized, as I have on a few occasions, you know that one of the first and most essential medical treatments is the insertion of an intravenous tube into a major vein. This provides an avenue for the doctor to administer an endless variety of specialized treatments for the well-being of the patient. The basic hydrating saline solution becomes the carrier for ingredients vital to healing, comfort, and nutrition.
I like to think of grace like an “IV” to the heart, flowing with unique and in-the-moment formulas of Christ’s provision. It started to gush the moment we turned toward Christ. It supplies His full provision for all we need, regardless of the trial or temptation. Right now, as you read, it is flowing.
The basic formula in this life-giving current is the power of the Holy Spirit, applying the truth of God’s word. But the unique application can change based upon your situation. Just like a patient receives an instantly delivered formula of sustenance, so do we in Christ. And, just as in the physical realm that formula can be supplemented with a myriad of antibiotics, pain medications, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory aids, and other drugs – so does the Lord provide exactly what we need, as we need it and when we need it.
It really is amazing, isn’t it?
Specific Steps Toward Simple Wisdom
1. How have these reflections expanded and excited your understanding of the grace of Christ? Take a moment to thank the Lord, telling Him in specific, heart-felt terms how His grace is so amazing.
2. Sing or quote the verses of the great hymn, "Amazing Grace". What stood out to you in this fresh reflection of the classic lyrics? Pray for a fresh application of these truths to your life today as you think about your needs and challenges.
3. Write down the names of five people who are significant in your life. Next to each name, write a description of the kind of grace they seem to need right now. Pray for a specific provision of this grace in their lives and keep track of how it is evidenced.
4. Jesus met Paul in his weakness and consternation with the promise, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Express your own prayerful application of this reality today in prayer by saying (as many times and ways as you can), "Lord, thank You today that Your grace is sufficient for me as I..." Finish this prayer-sentence with specific expressions of your needs, challenges, fears, and doubts. Expect grace to arrive, just in time, for your good and His glory.
Copyright © 2012 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.