“In sharp contrast to these spiritual revelations, the physical pain that I have suffered and my severe discomfort momentarily distracted me. It was as if an old mindset of accusation (Satan) persuaded me with this affliction was actually God’s way of keeping me humble. I almost believed this lie and even implored the Lord three times to remove the thorn from my flesh. Finally it dawned on me that Grace is God’s language, He doesn’t speak foreign language. He said to me my grace elevates you to be fully content. And now instead of being overwhelmed with a sense of my own weakness, He overwhelms me with an awareness of his strength. Oh what bliss to rejoice in the fact that in the midst of my frailities I encounter the dynamic of the grace of God to be my habitation. I now enjoy a delightfully different frame of mind when I encounter things that would normally make me frail, whether it be from insults or when I am in situations where I am forced to do things with my arms twisted behind my back, whether I am persecuted or feel squeezed into claustrophobic spaces. Because of Christ, every time I encounter weakness I escape into the strength of my I am-ness!” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Most Christians at some point or another, have heard lengthy sermons, studied, and even talked in depth about these verses in the Bible. Likely the translation used read something like “Paul was being tormented by a messenger of Satan (thorn) and Paul asked God three times to have the messenger (thorn) removed and Gods answer was, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” What a wonderful reality of the Gospel, that in our weakness, God’s strength is made perfect! In difficult times we look within our heart because the same Spirit Jesus raised from the dead lives inside of us. This is the beautiful gift we have received! No matter what situation we may face, we are able to look within and trust that everything is going to be ok.
Many times I have heard people talk about these verses and the context is “see even Paul had a sickness or ailment that God didn’t cure because sometimes we need to be beaten down to understand God’s grace.” As worldly as that sounds, it is not the Good News. God did answer Paul and the revelation that Paul had propelled him to new heights and a greater awareness of who he was, what Jesus did to remind him of his one-ness and how much God loves Him. When we have the Spirit of the Lord living in us nothing can knock us out and resting in this truth allows us to weather all trials and tribulations we may face.
One question Katy and I often hear is, “don’t I have to do something to be favored and blessed by God?” The answer we always give is “absolutely not!” Now you may be asking but what if (name a lawless deed)? and our answer is “God sees everyone as His perfect masterpiece, the only way to miss His favor and blessings is by eating from the tree of good and evil rather than to feast on the tree of life. God loves everyone and wants everyone to know how much He loves them.” We are all justified by Jesus, not by what we do. “Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects his faith! If this could be accomplished through any action of yours then there would be ground for boasting.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God wants all of us to live with peace, joy, and success in every area of our lives. He isn’t concerned about our lawless deeds. We have the choice to either live free in the finished work of Jesus or attempt to add to what was already accomplished on the cross and in Christ’s resurrection. God’s love never fails and He isn’t looking to punish us. We get to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with Praise.” (Psalm 100:4) We are not afraid of the Lord, rather, we stand in awe of His love for us!!!
Jesus has set all of us free to enjoy life without worrying about whether we are good enough. This is the Gospel and the more Katy and I bask in God’s supernatural love, the more we are transformed into who we are in Christ. You might be thinking that Katy and I are saying this message is a license to do whatever you want and it certainly is! God’s love is so amazing that He wants us to live and enjoy the life He gave us. He isn’t looking for a slave. He is thrilled when He sees that you are partaking in sonship. “Do not underestimate God’s kindness. The wealth of his benevolence and his resolute refusal to let go of us is because he continues to hear the echo of his likeness in us! Thus his patient passion is to shepherd everyone into a radical mind shift.” (Romans 2:4)
As the goodness of God sweeps out the nonsense in our hearts, we begin to change because we begin to live in His love. We quit trying to abstain from things we think are wrong. We don’t try to be good, we realize we are good. We realize Jesus’ resurrection overcame Adam and Eve’s fall. We embrace the New Creation. We are in Him. His light cures all darkness and heart issues we have. His love is the transforming power which brings us back to our true identity in Him!
We are called to enjoy life as heirs of the most high! We are His children and He is our Dad. “The presence of the law made no difference, instead it merely highlighted the offense; but where sin increased, grace superseded it. (Spiritual) death provided sin its platform and power to reign; now grace has taken over sovereignty through righteousness to introduce unthreatened life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ over us.” (Romans 5:20-21)
God’s unmerited favor and kindness (Grace) is the ticket to live in freedom for all of us. His grace is our license to live and enjoy life. God sees you as perfect! You were created in God’s image, and God is not a slave, servant, or employee. So neither are you! Believing you need to work to please God ultimately leads to death. Stress, guilt, and shame are the leading cause for all illnesses and peace, joy, and happiness are the antidote. God never created this world for us to live unworthy lives riddled with guilt and shame. He created us to commune with Him. Jesus death, burial and resurrection sealed us so that we can constantly commune through our one-ness in Christ! His voice echoes within us and His joyful songs celebrate how pleased He is with us.
Jesus is our antidote for all the issues in our life. Jesus is Love and Love never fails. Guarding our hearts with who we are in Jesus expands our kingdom and propels us to the life we are destined for. God’s unmerited favor and kindness: GRACE which is pure LOVE is the only antidote we will ever need. We are His children and He is our ABBA Father! Hallelujah…..
Father we thank you for our one-ness in Christ. Thank you that because of your love and pursuit of us we stand boldly in your presence. We rejoice knowing that it is you rejoicing through us, and we experience the echoes of your voice every moment of the day because you are well pleased with all of us. Thank you that over 2000 years ago you brought us back into the garden to live abundantly in the outpouring of your love and grace!!
Kurt and Katy