by Pastor E.A. Deckard
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times
“What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” Rick Warren
“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” Brennan Manning
Forward Thinkers, this series entitled “Straight Outta Grace” is not about being out of grace as in running out of or even being in lack of grace. This series is about being birthed, delivered, and produced out of the spiritual womb of God’s grace.
Who better to lead off this series on grace other than the Apostle Paul! A man restored, a man renewed, and a man rebuilt through God’s amazing grace.
2 Corinthians 12:6-10 New International Version (NIV)
6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Forward Thinkers, by the time Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth he has accomplished many great feats for the Lord. Paul has totally turned his life around going from lynching Christians to leading a generation to Christ.
Forward Thinkers, Paul has defeated a major storm, overcame being thrown in prison unfairly, and he even stood victorious after being bitten by a deadly snake.
Paul is clear here in his letter to the church at Corinth that everything he had achieved was not because of his inner strength, giftedness, or wisdom; but Paul declares he was winning because God’s grace was keeping him covered while God’s favor was turning things around in his favor.
Forward Thinkers, put a major footnote right here and you can text, tweet, Facebook, or IG this, “Haters add flavor to your favor.”
God had a purpose and a plan for Paul’s life so God designed a personal plan for Paul to keep him from becoming conceited. Forward Thinkers, God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes to keep us in His will of protection and provision.
Forward Thinkers, this may interfere with your religious mindset but, sometimes God will send the trouble in your life to get the most out of your life. Let’s be honest, if trouble would not have shown up you may have never grown up.
God sent the big fish for Jonah to get him back on track and God sent the devil after Job to show him how strong he was. Hard reality for people of faith is that you never know how strong you are until you have to be strong.
Forward Thinkers, Paul said three times, “I prayed Lord remove this thorn from my flesh and the Lord did not respond. Paul knew how to pray and get results but three times he prayed and nothing happened.
Forward Thinkers, what was God doing to Paul? What was God trying to teach Paul? What can we learn from Paul’s experience?
Yes by this time in his life Paul had achieved a lot in the name of Jesus but the Lord desired to take Paul higher to a whole new level, dimension, season, and anointing. Forward Thinkers, every diamond had to go through a great deal of pressure before it reached its full potential.
1) HUMBLE YOU
Humble yourself and pray then I will move on your behalf. Forward Thinkers when God sends or allows situations to humble you it’s not to destroy you, defeat you, or even embarrass you but it’s to keep you in His will so He can bless you real good.
2) MOVE YOU
Sometimes in life we settle in a place beneath our destiny. Most of the time when we refer to settling we think of a situation that’s less than but there are often times where we settle because we have experienced a glimpse of God’s glory and we get caught up on that moment or that memory and stop moving.
Forward Thinkers a popular restaurant on the East Coast wanted to serve a brand of fish that only lived in Texas and Louisiana so they paid a huge cost to have the fish shipped live but the first couple of shipments arrived all dead. Forward Thinkers the shipping company came up with the idea of putting a predator fish in the shipping tank and this kept the fish moving and the next shipment arrived with all the fish alive. Forward Thinkers God desires much more of you but you have to keep it moving to go higher.
3) REMIND YOU
Sometimes Jesus will use a storm or negative situation to remind you of who He is. Forward Thinkers remember the disciples were panicking and Jesus stood up asked them where is your faith then He calmed down the storm. Forward Thinkers our testimonies are our reminders of God’s grace and God’s power. Forward Thinkers remember when we are at our worst God shows up and reminds us how strong His grace and mercy is.
Forward Thinkers, in conclusion think about this, if Judas would not have betrayed Jesus there would never have been a cross story, without the cross there never would have never been a grave experience, without the grave experience there never would have been a resurrection and if there was no resurrection you and I could have never received salvation. In the end, all things work out in our favor because we are operating under God’s covenant of grace.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church now located, in both Houston, Texas, and the Woodlands, Texas. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Facebook, Instagram @ Pastor E A Deckard, Periscope or the church website www.ghic.net