First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday May 21, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“My Grace Is Sufficient for You!”
Isaiah 40:27-31; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Over these past few days I thought about my final messages from this pulpit and what should I say to a congregation and a church family that we got to love so much. The news I shared with the Session and congregation earlier this week could be upsetting and troubling to all of us. I want to assure you once more, this was not an easy decision to make, and I certainly understand the pain and heartache we may be experiencing this week.
Yet, as I tried to process all of this, I find my heart drawn more and more to the grace of God. “Grace” is the most important concept in the Bible. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ. Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God when we feel helpless and get overwhelmed.
This morning, I want to remind us of the sufficiency of God’s grace in the face of the unknown, in the face of any transition, and in the face of all the turns and twists of life. The apostle Paul experienced the fullness and sufficiency of God’s amazing grace as he faced the harsh reality of life. Do as we hide ourselves in the sufficiency of the amazing grace of God, please allow me to underscore a couple observations.
First: Rise Above
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says, “a thorn was given me in the flesh.” We’re not exactly sure what that “thorn in the flesh” was, but we do know it was more than a cold or flu. It was some painful, physical condition that kept on tormenting him. It tormented Paul so much that it hindered his ministry, and everyone knew it. It tormented him so much that he pleaded to the Lord three times to take it away.
Yet, instead of granting Paul what he prayed for, God says to him rise above. When I say, “rise above,” I do not mean to ignore the problem; pretend it does not exist; try to be as much like a person without a thorn as I can be. But it means rise above the pain, the restriction, the burden, because God knows about it, and He is in control. Rise above it not because we have figured it all out, but because we trust. One of the main differences between Christians, those who follow Christ, those who acknowledge His sovereignty over their life, and those who aren’t, is that we, followers of Jesus can rise above our circumstances because we are being carried by the amazing grace of our loving heavenly Father.
Second: Lean on the all-Sufficiency of God’s Grace
“Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness,” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. I want to draw your attention to the “word order” in Greek, the original language. It’s fascinating how the original Greek renders this. A literal translation would be, “Sufficient it is for you, my grace.” The original Greek places the word “sufficient” at the beginning of the sentence. English doesn’t really have a way of doing this, but in Greek, this is a method for placing emphasis on a word or a concept. In this case, the emphasis here is on the absolute, complete, utter sufficiency of the grace of God for Paul in the midst of his weakness. God here assures Paul that there is nothing he lacks in his weakness because he possesses the fully sufficient power of God’s amazing grace through this trial.
Not only that, but there is even something greater that I would like to draw your attention to in this verse and it has to do with the verb tense of 2 Corinthians 12:9. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you.” All the verbs here are in the perfect tense which means the promise of God’s sufficient grace is valid yesterday, today, and ever more. It was sufficient for Paul; its sufficient for us today, and it will be sufficient for all our tomorrows.
Friends, God’s grace is still sufficient to supply our needs and the needs of Blackwood Presbyterian. It’s still sufficient to cover our sins. It’s still sufficient to complete our final transformation. This truth has proven true generation after generation and it will stand firm until we see Jesus face to face. “Those who wait for the Lord,” says Isaiah 40:31, “shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
I read the story of a child who was trying to lift a stone much too heavy for him. His father walked by and, seeing his struggles, said, “Are you using all your strength?” The boy said that indeed he was. But the father replied, “No, son, you aren’t, for you haven't asked me to help.” A part of that boy’s strength was the strength of a loving father. Because of that loving relationship between father and son, all the father’s strength was freely available to the boy. Friends, it is the same way with God and us. “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.” Whatever the needs of our lives, God is always there for us. Whatever the task before us, we have His sufficient grace. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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