GRACE  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:12
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So many things we do in life aren’t necessarily hard, they just require we hang in there until we finish. My first job out of college, the man who hired me told me that even though my degree was psychology and not business, it showed that I was willing to work and complete something. In Seminary, it was a matter of finishing. No one single course was hard, the process of completing everything was hard. When I ran the corporate cup race back in 1992, I ran the first mile in 6 minutes, but if I didn’t finish the race, it would have been no good.
Many of you have similar experiences. You accomplished something that took perseverance to complete.
Galatians 6:9 The Living Bible
9 And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.
God wants you and I to live an abundant life… John 10:10 and Jer 19:11
He says this over and over…
The Bible says that what God begins, he will finish.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
It means that if you have give your life to Christ and are living for him, you will make it. It doesn’t depend on our performance; it depends on God’s sustaining grace to keep us in the race so we can we finish. The only question is how you finish the race. Poorly or well. God wants us to finish well.
God doesn’t just want you to live in heaven, he wants to give you his Favor so you can live the Abundant life. My goal as your pastor is to see YOU run and finish your race WELL… to live with the favor of God in your life.
How do we do this? How can we live this abundant life with the Favor of God in our lives?
We can live that way because of the Grace of God… the Sustaining Grace of God. God doesn’t just save you, he wants to sustain you throughout this life.
God’s sustaining Grace is the power that keeps us going when you feel like giving up? Have you ever felt like giving up? Sustaining Grace gets you through that. It helps you make the right choices when you really want to make the wrong choice. If you are like me, you need this too.
No matter what you face in the coming year, God’s sustaining grace will get you through.
1 Peter 5:12 NLT
12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.
God’s sustaining Grace will get you through.
There are three things in life that can cause you to stumble and to not enjoy the Abundant Life God wants for you.

1. Grace keeps me standing when I am tempted.

Temptation is the first thing that will cause us to stumble.
1 Peter 5:8–9 NLT
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
You may not realize this but the moment you become a believer a battle starts in your life. You no longer belong to Satan, you belong to the Lord and Satan doesn't like that so there's a battle for your life every single day of your life.
Everyday you will be faced with moral choices to do the right thing or the wrong thing… to do the compassionate thing or the hateful thing… the selfish thing or the unselfish thing.
We are all tempted… that never stops. Even Jesus was tempted.
Hebrews 4:15 NLT
15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
Good news - if Jesus was tempted and he did not sin, the temptation is not the sin. It’s when we give into that temptation that is a sin. So you can stop going, I can’t believe that thought that I had… you cannot control what pops into your mind. But you can control whether or not you dwell on it. You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.
Satan gives you all kinds of ideas. You don't have to feel intimidated or embarrassed or ashamed of that. He just puts those ideas in your mind. It's when you dwell on them when they become sin.
ILL - Lust vs. Attraction. Attraction = wow that person is pretty or nice and someone I would like to spend some time getting to know. Lust = when you take that attraction and begin to fantasize about ...
One night Larry King interviewed Billy Graham. They were talking about the Clinton scandals. Finally he says to Billy Graham, "You're 80 years old and you've been in the public limelight your entire light and you've never had a scandal. You have a history of integrity. How have you managed to never have a scandal in your life?" Billy Graham quoted the next verse
1 Corinthians 10:13 NCV
13 The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it.
That’s God’s sustaining GRACE. It’s a fantastic promise. It says that God will never allow more temptation than you can handle with his help. God’s Sustaining Grace will always give you a way not to fall to temptation… you just have to look for it.
Sometimes you get tired...

2. Grace helps me keep standing when I am tired.

Life can be exhausting. It requires a lot of strength, a lot of energy to live life especially when you're trying to do the right thing rather than the easiest thing. There are a lot of people in life that don't try to do the right thing; they just want to do whatever's the easiest thing. You can coast through life if you always do the easiest thing. But when you're coasting, you're always going downhill. You're always headed down when you coast.
On the other hand, when you try to do the right thing, it takes a lot of energy and strength.
Some of you are the only Believer where you work. It’s difficult. Do you ever get tired of doing the right things? Of course you do. It’s hard to swim upstream of culture.
But like I said earlier,
Galatians 6:9 The Living Bible
9 And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.
But where do you get the power to do the right thing and you don't feel like doing it and you're dead tired. Sometimes I don't want to be nice, I want to be cranky. Sometimes I don't want to be nice to a clerk I want to be grouchy. Sometimes I want to be rude back to people who are rude to me. Where do you get the energy to do the right thing?
2 Corinthians 1:21–22 NLT
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
The key to the ability to not getting tired and giving up and doing the right thing when you know it's the right thing to do is having the Holy Spirit in your heart. It's the Holy Spirit who energizes you, not you in your own power.
The reason why some of you are tired all the time is because you are trying to live the Christian life and that doesn't work. You're trying to be like Jesus. You're trying to do good. You're trying to keep the Ten Commandments. You're trying to be a person of integrity. You're trying, trying... And you get tired.
People say "It's so hard to be a Christian today!" It's not hard. It's impossible. The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He's the only one who ever lived the Christian life perfectly. What you need to do, rather than try to be like Jesus, let Jesus be Jesus in you. Let Jesus be Jesus through you. Stop trying and trying and just start trusting and trusting. The key to the Christian life is not trying, it's trusting. It's not psych yourself up, work real hard, try to do your best and perform so God will smile at you. Relax, trust and let Christ live through you. And He will give you the power you need. (GAL 2:20)
Galatians 2:20 NLT
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
ILL Moses was the most persistent man ever in the Bible was Moses. He had incredible endurance. How did he keep on keeping on, in spite of the fact that he spent forty years waiting in the wilderness and then forty years wandering in the wilderness, leading a bunch of spiritual babies around the desert. How did he not give up, how did he not get tired and quit. Moses had God's Sustaining Grace in his life. That's how you keep on going when you're tired.
ILL Do you know how many years it took Noah to build the ark? The Bible says 120 years. Can you imagine waiting 120 years for anything? In those days they lived a whole lot longer. But the point is, Noah waited 120 years. How did he have the ability to keep on keeping on when he was tired? Surely he must have gotten tired building the ark. The Bible tells us in Genesis 6, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
ILL It took me 9 years to get Kathy to marry me. I had God’s sustaining Grace in my life to keep going.
God wants to give you His power to do it. To do what you need to do.
Philippians 2:13 NLT
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Will and power. The Christian life is not a matter of willpower -- your willpower. But it is a matter of God's will and God's power in your life. When God gives you the will and the power to do something, you'll be able to do it. God never asks you to do something He doesn't give you the power to do. Would you agree that God has more power than you? Obviously.
ILL - God made the sun. The sun produces more power in one single second than all the human race has used throughout all of history. More energy is produced in one second than we've used throughout history. The sun has enough energy to burn for thirty billion more years. Yet God made the sun. That's the kind of power He's got. Then He comes to you and says, "You need some power? I'll give you the will and the power to handle it." Because God's power is unlimited, He never gets tired. When it says about creation that on the seventh day, God rested, it wasn't because He was tired; it was because He was finished. He had finished with creation.

3. Grace keeps me standing when I am troubled.

Jesus said that we will have trouble … don’t be surprised or let it derail you. It’s coming. You will have situation you can’t handle alone. But God says he will give you the power.
The most difficult kinds of trouble to handle are the troubles, the problems in life that are unplanned, unrelenting, and undeserved. Some things we bring on ourselves, so we figure, "I made the mess. I've got to clean it up." I have to handle it.
But the most difficult problems in life to handle are the unfair ones. You are an innocent party. What happened? You didn't plan it. You don't feel like you deserved it. You didn't ask for it or cause it. Those are the ones that are hard to handle.
They are especially difficult when they are undeserved and unrelenting. You see no end on sight… disability or sickness. You will face situations that seem hopeless and situations you cannot fix. What do you do?
First stop the “if only” game.
Instead focus on Jesus. Focus on his sustaining power.
Isaiah 41:10 NCV
10 So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.
That’s how you get sustaining grace.
What do you do when you can’t fix an unfixable situation? You throw yourself on the sustaining Grace of God. That’s counter cultural because our culture tells us to be self sustaining… we need God and each other.
Psalm 46:1 NLT
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

How do we receive God’s Sustaining Grace?

How do get that kind of grace to keep going in spite of temptations, trials, tension, tiredness and troubles? You do four things.

1. Call out for God’s help.

As long as you pretend to be self sufficient you short circuit God's power in your life. You need to admit your inadequacy and say, "God, I can't handle this!" and you cry out for God's help.
James 4:6–8 NLT
6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Humbly cry out to the Lord. Don’t just give him a passing ask… get real with him… ask and keep asking.

2. Fill your mind with God’s Word.

This book (Bible), let it comfort you, let it strengthen you, let it fill you, let it soothe you, let it give you the energy you need to keep going. Get into this book, every single day of your life. Get a modern translation -- New Living Version or something and begin to read it and get it into your mind.
Psalm 119:25 The Living Bible
25 I am completely discouraged—I lie in the dust. Revive me by your Word.
There are so many wacked out beliefs out there today… it’s tiring. Listen you don’t have all the answers… no one does but the Lord.
You need to look to God. He's the only one who can change you. He's the only one who can help you. He's the only one with sustaining strength. You need to look, not within you. You need to look outside of yourself to the creator who made you. Because the answers are not in you. The answers are in God.... not others certainly not in psychics.
Fill your mind with God’s word.

3. Accept support from God’s people.

Galatians 6:2 NLT
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
God says when we help each other, we are obeying the Laws of Christ.
If you don't have some strong Christian friends, mature believers, and you're not in some relationships where you can have some feedback and support when the crisis is on, I feel pity for you. God never meant for you to go through life on your own. You're not a Lone Ranger. God intentionally, the Bible says, puts weaknesses in our lives so we realize how much we need each other. You're not going to make it on your own. You need to accept support from God's people.

4. Hold onto God’s Promises.

There are over 7000 of them in the Bible waiting to be claimed, waiting for you to grab onto like blank checks. Here's one of them, Isaiah 40:29-31
Isaiah 40:29–31 NLT
29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Keep your hope in the Lord. Even more than that, keep your eyes focused on the hope of heaven, not just on the here and now. Focus on the hope of heaven.
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
In heaven there's going to be no problems. In heaven there's going to be no sorrow. In heaven there's going to be no sadness, no grief, no messed up lives.
Where do you need God's Sustaining Grace today? Where are you discouraged and you feel like giving up? Are you being tempted? Being pounded and can't get rid of a temptation? Or are you tired and you say, "I don't think I can put another foot in front of the other." Or are you under tension, in trials and troubles that you can't fix? No matter what you're going through, God's grace will sustain you if you'll let it.
2 Corinthians 12:8–9 NLT
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
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