Finding Grace When We Aren’t Enough

10-14-19 When Not Enough
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
“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.”
 
The day of the swim meet our hearts pumped wildly. The “giants in the land” were better prepared. They’d been swimming from the womb and my kids started in middle school. Before the race, my son noticed the coach slipping five dollars to one of his teammates, urging him to win. I couldn’t believe it. So, I promised my son five dollars if he beat that kid. Yep. One of those moms.
 
When my kids excelled, my momma’s heart burst with pride and I cried. But those moments when they were sprawled out on the floor screaming in the middle of aisle nine? Not so much.
 
The early years were marked with mayhem as I grabbed a hold of the Bible like it was a white surrender flag. Cheerios stuffed here and there, noses running everywhere, loaded diapers about to flare. I was just grateful we survived.
 
Poured out, still, there was that familiar ache burning inwardly with the thought I dared not mention—what if I’m not enough?
 
I used to say with a hint of pride that I home educated. Four kids in college and one in high school, they all love Jesus, but they have all had their slip-ups just like their momma. Now I realize that whether they succeed or not, it’s not mine to own.
 
I wasn’t enough. I never was.
 
Somehow, I got off track and thought parenting was about me. What I could produce.
 
In reality, somewhere in the middle of surviving and thriving is the space where God’s grace fills our best and makes it enough.
 
Yes, friend, you and I aren’t enough. We give it our best and God takes care of the rest.
 
Paul wasn’t afraid to admit he wasn’t enough. In fact, he boasted about it. A former persecutor of God’s people, he became their leader. Talk about regret. But when he fell short of God’s grace, he learned some secrets—humility and reliance on God were his strength, not his own abilities:
 
2 Corinthians 12:9
“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.”
 
Boasting about my weaknesses? I had spent so much time hiding them. But Paul reveals that we have access to power, strength and grace when we are willing to admit we aren’t enough.
 
Power
When we aren’t enough, we access Christ’s power through that admission.
 
Strength
When we aren’t enough, Christ is our strength.
 
Grace
When we aren’t enough, we remember that we never were. But God is. And He has called us by His never-ending grace all for His glory, not ours.
 
That day at the swim meet my son tied for first. The five dollars was a little competitive, perhaps, but now I know it wasn’t winning that mattered most. It was simply giving our best to God, all for His glory.

The Gift of Acceptance from the Unbiased Baby Jesus

The only One who can set the standard for acceptance in all of life set it, fulfilled it and offered us.png
Inspirational Thought of the Day:
We could never meet someone’s definition well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but we don’t have to.
Scripture of the Day:

1 My brothers and sistersdo not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the lawas violators.  

John 7:41

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?
Deep in our heart of hearts we long for acceptance, to know we are cherished. The familiar feeling of rejection stings as we clamor to meet the constantly shifting standards in our relevant world. Or not. Those two words bring peace to my soul as I know I could never meet anyone’s standards well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but I don’t have to.
The only One who could set the standard for acceptance in all of life 
set it, fulfilled it and offered us acceptance that never ends.

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ entrance to this world filled my mind.  Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way.  Jesus is not a snob. No, He came as a poor infant Jew to Galilee and Nazareth and confounded the supposed wisdom of this world.  He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first.  He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

So many prejudices exist and have since the world began.  Gender, age, financial status, education, color of skin, culture, anything that can define one as unique can also be fodder for bias.  Not so with God.  He loves how each one of us is different, and it is beautiful in His eyes.  Christ came to abolish our sickening racism, prejudice, and preferences to show us what it means to truly love unconditionally.  His unbiased acceptance is absolutely amazing when we consider He had every right to look down on us.

Ethnic purity is not a new term.  The Samaritans were persecuted for not being a pure race, yet Jesus viewed them no differently than any other race or people.  It is, in fact, laughable and ridiculous that we should view any race as superior to another when we all consider that we came from Adam.

Why are we still so ignorant?  We should be able to learn from the atrocities that history has to offer, but instead we reinvent the insipid racism in a new fashion and repeat the same sins as our predecessors.  Perhaps it is insecurity – each person, each family, each race wants to be the best?  In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy.  God did choose the Jewish people as His own, but then He shared this salvation with all.

If we are honest, we will admit we have all had moments of prejudice in some fashion; pride in which we thought we were better than another.  There is still hope.  We can turn the tide where we live.  Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too.  May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all.  The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees – may we not think too highly of ourselves, our denomination, our color, our culture, or anything else that is a part of who we are – and may we simply accept others as we were accepted.

LORD, thank You for accepting all Who would call on Your Name for Salvation.  Help us, God, to stop labeling and judging one another and to love as You did.

Truthful Tuesday: Whose Lead Do You Follow?

Whose lead do you follow

Romans 8:5

“For  those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions.  The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.

The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment.  Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly.  If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.

One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another.  Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God.  Where does this come from?  If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone.  We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.

The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.

While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors.  Do they honor God?  Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh?  If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.

Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One.  Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.

Lord, may You increase and may we decrease.  Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: He Delights in You

Psalms 147:3, 6, 11, 14 (NET)

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. 6 The LORD lifts up the oppressed, but knocks the wicked to the ground. 11 The Lord takes delight in His faithful followers, and in those who wait for His loyal love.  14 He has made His people victorious and given all His loyal followers reason to praise – the Israelites, the people who are close to Him – praise the LORD!”

Psalm 149:4 (ISV)

“For the LORD is pleased with his people; he beautifies the afflicted with salvation.”

Zephaniah 3:17

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

There is nothing so precious as the smile on a child’s face when that child knows they are delighted in.  Almost embarrassed from the expression of love surrounding them, the smile gives away their delight in the security of your love. In much the same way, a spouse can sense when they are adored – it makes the soul happy to be the source of someone else’s delight.

It is that part of our being that craves acceptance, wants to know we are pleasing, that yearns for a Daddy’s love, which only God can fill.  Much like Adam and Eve, we are easily deceived and tend to want to hide from God when we think we have not lived up to His expectations.  All the while He is saying, come to me – you who I love with an unconditional, everlasting love – and let me wash you and make you as white as snow.

Time and time again people will let us down.  But perhaps we are going to them for the acceptance that God can only give. It is painful to have to be so needful – we would rather be in the position of strength, giving to others.  But it is on the receiving end of such a love that we are truly able to give that love out to others, as well.

Are we weary, beaten down, feel like we can never experience the goodness of God?  Come.  He delights in you.  Do we feel the sting of rejection from others?  Come, He delights in you.  Do we hurt from afflictions of this fallen world – diseases, betrayal, failure?  Come, dear one.  He delights in you!

Tears well in my eyes when I consider His faithful love.  Never fading, always accepting.  Fully knowing, yet chasing after us to reveal His steadfast love to us.  As we are delighted in, so may we delight in Him.  Living like we are delighted in makes all the difference in the world.  Made in His image, secure in His love, we can delight in others, as well,

Lord, help us to rest in the knowledge of Your delight in us.  Heal wounds in Your children today all for Your glory.