Summary: This sermon looks at God's grace and how it sustains us through times of temptations, tiredness, and troubles.
God’s Sustaining Grace
It seems that many people are going through so much. It’s really unbelievable. It ranges from those with a wide variety of illnesses to those whose stress levels have reached so high they’re one tick away from a heart attack.
And let’s not forget about those whose emotions are out of control and are turning to drugs or alcohol for relief, or so they think.
People today are going through what some have affectionately or not so affectionately called, “The Ringer.” Maybe you can relate.
What we need to get us through to the end of this race, this journey called life, is God’s sustaining grace.
The Apostle Paul brings this out in his letter to the Philippian Church.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)
In this opening section of Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church, Paul gives what be considered as the distinguishing characteristics of a Christian, including a thankful heart, a consistent and joyful prayer life, having a loving fellowship with other believers, discernment combined with compassion, righteousness, and the confident assurance of God’s grace to see us through.
Paul said that it was the Lord who began this good work, and He will complete it, making us more into the image of Jesus Christ until that day when we will be with Him.
When we open up our hearts and allow Jesus entry, then heaven will be our eventual home, and there is absolutely no doubt about it.
This is something Paul knew well and used the analogy of a fight and race to reveal its truth.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8a NKJV)
Like Paul, we too can depend upon this promise, that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we’ll cross the finish line with heaven and an eternity with God on the other side.
Unfortunately, what happens is that we try to get to heaven based upon our own efforts, based upon our own performance standards. The bad thing about this methodology is that we have no certainty of the outcome. How will we know when we have enough?
The Good News, the gospel message of Jesus Christ, rests entirely on God’s sustaining grace.
The only question becomes is how will we finish the race?
Some people finish the race well, some poorly, yet they still finish. My goal is not only to finish the race well, but also to get as many people across the finish line that I can where they will likewise hear the Lord say,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
The important thing to remember is that it is the Lord who will give us the strength to finish this race. It’s the power God gives to us to keep on keeping on when we feel like quitting. It’s the power to do what is right, when doing wrong is so much easier. It’s God’s sustaining grace.
In this race, there are many pitfalls and things that can cause us to stumble, but no matter what comes our way, no matter what trials assail us, it is God’s sustaining grace that will see us through.
What I’d like to do is to take some time to look at a couple areas that causes us to stumble, and then look at how God’s sustaining grace can help.
1. Through Times of Temptations
Temptations are one major area that causes us to stumble and fall.
The Apostle Peter said,
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV)
Today this might read, “Be careful in how you live, because Satan is out to eat your lunch, but if you stand firm in what you believe, then he’ll have nothing to hold on to, and don’t think you’re the only one going through it, so is everyone else.”
The moment we become believers, a battle starts. And that’s because we ‘re no longer Satan’s property, and he doesn’t like to lose what he has invested so heavily in. So a battle begins for our soul. Satan’s sets up temptations to make us fall. These are those choices, “Will we do right or wrong, good or bad? Will we be selfish or giving?”