Sustaining Grace--2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God Understands

2 Corinthians 12:7-10. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

All of us at one time or another have suffered losses and trials, some are suffering right at this time. You get up some mornings hoping that it was a bad dream but it's still there, it's real, and you may have to deal with it all today and again tomorrow.

God is the only one who can help in times of grief and heartache. He’ll comfort you if you'll let Him because He understands!

We all know about God’s SAVING GRACE. One notable example was John Newton. He was a drunken slave-trader who, after coming to Christ as his Savior, wrote: "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me." That's SAVING GRACE!

All born again Christians have experienced it!

But there is another kind of grace available but not to lost sinners, only to children of God: it’s SUSTAINING GRACE!

It's the grace that holds you up during times of trial, sorrow, loss, grief, temptation, stress, pressure. It's the grace that keeps you going when you don't think you can keep going.

Most of us have seen the illustration in one form or another of "Footprints in the Sand:" when there is only one set of footprints, that’s when God is carrying us, that's what’s called "Sustaining Grace."

Another songwriter wrote:

"He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit,
His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!"
(the more you need the more God will give you!)
[Making Melody #369]

"Sustaining grace" is what helps you work through the tears and sorrow. It’s not the absence of normal emotions. Tears can be a gift from God that help to relieve built up tension and emotion. These normal emotions show what we feel, how much we care, or how deeply we love someone.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then tears speak a million words that we can't seem to express at the time. Tears are a language that God understands!

Revelation 21:4 says “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” but until then, it's OK to cry, God understands. Sustaining grace isn’t the absence of these normal emotions.

Anger is a normal emotion at times. "Sustaining grace" isn’t the absence of anger and God will help us work through the anger, if we'll let Him!

An un-named writer indicated anger as well as faith in God when he stated, in Psalm 71:20, “Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”

In Psalm 73:21-23 Asaph wrote “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22: So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23: Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand."

The Apostle Paul advised us not to sin in our righteous anger. Ephesians 4:26-27; “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27: Neither give place to the devil.”

When we have emotions that haunt us, God’s sustaining grace will give us the strength we need to replace them with peace and trust, and contentment and sometimes even joy!

Sustaining grace isn’t the absence of guilt, but when there's no one to put the blame on, we turn the blame inward and give the devil the room he needs to work in our life.

We think of what we should have done differently. Maybe sometime we’ve said the wrong thing and didn't say we were sorry, or didn’t say “I love you.” Maybe we think of arguments or misunderstandings that could have been avoided, or what we didn't say and wish we had but now it's too late. We sacrificed what's really important to our ego.

Sustaining grace isn’t the absence of guilt, but even in our guilt, God understands. And where we've truly failed, if we ask, God will forgive.

And when we have a false sense of guilt, God will help it to dissipate. And then He'll show us how to live and love just as we wished we had done before!

These who have suffered loss of one very close to them would advise you never to take anyone for granted. Share your sentiments as if it was to be your last opportunity!

Sustaining grace isn’t the absence of regret, either. Psalm 103:11-14. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13: Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14: For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Sustaining grace isn’t the absence of pressure.

There are personal matters, financial matters, endless details and needs to see to and our whole being feels inadequate, un-appreciated, and beaten down under the load of pressure, but even in times of pressures like this, God understands!

He promised that His grace will be sufficient for the burden at hand. He also promises wisdom and strength that are equal to the task!

Verse 9 of our text says; “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Psalm 55:22. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 46:1-5. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2: Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3: Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah." (Selah: think about these things.) His grace is sufficient!

So, sustaining grace is not the absence of these negative emotions, it's the strength to get you through them.

Matthew 28-29. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

There are plenty of places you can go and not find sustaining grace. Science can’t offer you sustaining grace! Religion, philosophy, logic, reason, none of these can. A bottle can’t either. Neither can a pill or a syringe. Knowing all this, Jesus said, "come unto me." Only Jesus can satisfy your soul and give you sustaining grace.

Jesus left heaven's glory to live the perfect life we couldn't, to die the death we deserved, to pay for our sins. Jesus conquered death for us! "If that isn't love, the ocean is dry."

A lot of people want to fit Jesus to their world, dropping Him to a level they'd consider tolerable and yet Jesus still loves them and said, "come unto me." He is the total and only source for saving grace, and for sustaining grace. The best part is that His grace is offered to any who will come to Him regardless if they are rich or poor, ignorant, educated, uneducated, a thief on a cross or a religious man like Nicodemus!

Think of all the invitations given in the Bible to "come."

In Genesis, God told Noah to come into the ark (an invitation from God to come into the place of safety. It applies to you and me today! God is our refuge!)

In the Old Testament there is an invitation to come to the place of cleansing from our sins. (it applies to you and me today!) Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

In the New Testament, Jesus invites us to come to the marriage supper of the Lamb of God, to be His guest at the table with Him, the place of provision (it applies to you and me today!) Revelation 22:17. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.”

I don't know what you need sustaining grace for today, but if you don't need it now, you will! I believe there are as many needs as there are people and we are all invited to come!

Jesus made this offer, “Come unto Me.” That the invitation. Who did He make this offer to? “All ye that labor and are heavy laden.” {That includes your sin burden as well as your day to day troubles}, and His promise; "and I will give you rest." {He’ll save you. He’ll see you through your troubles.}

The question is this: Is Jesus capable and qualified to give you the rest that He promises?

Well, in the Bible, names mean things. Names describe the character and nature of people. God has over 300 names in the Bible and since Jesus is God the Son they all help us to understand him.

In Genesis 22:14-Jehovah Jireh: "the Lord will provide." He provided a sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament and the sacrificial Lamb of God in the New Testament. He provides saving grace to all who will come to Him, and sustaining grace to all who will accept it!

Ezekiel 48:35-Jehovah Shammah: "the Lord is there.” In times of trouble-just ask David. Loneliness-ask Elijah. Bereavement-ask Mary and Martha. Sickness-ask King Hezekiah. Persecution-ask Paul. Temptation-ask Joseph. Disappointment-ask the disciples.

Jeremiah 23:6-Jehovah Sidon: "the Lord our Righteousness." He's a holy God and He wants us to be holy as well and praise God, it doesn't depend upon our righteousness. He imparts His righteousness to us.

Exodus 6:3-El Shaddai: "the Lord is sufficient" for our spiritual needs, emotional, physical, material, our troubles and our burdens.

Exodus 15:26-Jehovah Rapha: "The Lord our healer." He heals broken lives and broken hearts!

Exodus 17:15-Jehovah Nissi: "The Lord our banner." He gives us victory over sin, death, hell, and self.

Judges 6:24-Jehovah Shalom: "The Lord our peace." Peace of heart, peace of mind.

Genesis 14-Jehovah Elim: "The most high God." Omnipotent-all powerful. Omnipresent-all places at once, helping somebody over here at the same time He's helping someone over there!

Matthew 1:21-we see the full and final revelation of the character and the nature of God in the name He is given here, “and the angel said, "His Name shall be called Jesus!" The sweetest Name above all names. Sweet to the taste and the ear alike, healing to the soul! And only Jesus can satisfy your soul! "There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

His grace is sufficient:
it’s saving grace,
it’s sustaining grace, to all who will come!