How to Use Grace

How to Use GRACE on Problems

2 Corinthians 12:7-10


Oct 18, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction


A.     Remember Last Week’s Message? The Gift of a Thorn?


1.      The apostle Paul had experienced conversion from his own self-righteousness on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 – saved, born again

2.      But 25 years later, Paul experienced a conversion from self-sufficiency

3.      How? By the gift of a thorn in his flesh


a.       Something that hurt

b.      Something that hindered him and slowed him down

c.       Something that only made him weaker


4.      That thorn was not just a cold or the flu – it was not a sprained ankle, or a broken arm that would heal

5.      That thorn was deeply wedged in his flesh and was not coming out

6.      Paul came to understand that this thorn was given to him not by accident, or by the devil, but by God – as a gift

7.      Paul was doing great things


a.       God had inspired this lonely Jew to write 14 books of the New Testament

b.      God had used him to start dozens and dozens of churches all across Syria, Turkey and Greece

c.       If anyone could have been proud of being a successful Christian, it would have been the Apostle Paul!


8.      So God humbled him


a.       Gave him the gift of a thorn in his flesh

b.      God gave Paul something that would remind him how weak he really was

c.       And how desperately he would always need God


9.      But Paul did NOT want this “gift”


a.       It hurt

b.      It distracted him

c.       It slowed him down

d.      Started complaining about it


10.  Asked for it to be taken away – even begged Jesus Christ to remove it.


a.       Over and over he prayed and asked that it be removed

b.      He did NOT want it – surely there must be a way to get this problem removed

c.       Paul got frustrated – maybe even angry


11.  And the only answer he got back from heaven was the word “GRACE”


a.       Jesus called it “MY GRACE” – not Mary’s grace, or the grace of the church, but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

b.      Jesus said it was PERFECT GRACE –all the grace he would ever need!


12.  And from that moment, Paul’s life was changed – transformed


a.       He had been complaining, demanding, frustrated at how everything had gone wrong, and was hurting

b.      And yet now was “most glad”

c.       He now “glories”, rejoices, is most grateful, for every hurt, every failure, every struggle, every thing that reminded him just how weak he really was!

d.      All because he had something better than complaining, yelling, getting upset, and blaming

e.       He had grace


B.     There are many things that expose MY weaknesses… Paul lists four big ones in 2Cor 12:9,10


1.      Infirmities – weakness of the flesh and mind


a.       Sickness – unusual tiredness

b.      Physical limitations

c.       Constant Pain

d.      Mental weaknesses – can’t read, or dyslexic, or bad with maths or remembering things (sounds like most of us…)

e.       Poor speech, lack of proper grammar, rudeness

f.        These are all infirmities of the flesh

g.       Weakness and limitations of our bodies


2.      Reproaches – weak reputation, low view of self


a.       People mocking you, making fun of you

b.      Hating yourself

c.       Constantly thinking you are no good,


3.      Necessities – weak wallet


a.       Lacking things you need, to survive, like food and shelter and clothes

b.      Necessities are not iPhones or x-box’s or even TV’s

c.       Necessities are the things necessary for you to just live

d.      And Paul said he experienced necessities – or the LACK of important things:


1)     He didn’t have a wife and family

2)     He didn’t own a house

3)     He didn’t have a regular income

4)     He was doing without a lot of the things we take for granted!


4.      Persecutions – weak defence


a.       People ganging up on you

b.      Not just disagreeing, but trying to shut you up and drive you out

c.       And you aren’t winning against them!


5.      Distresses – weak resolve


a.       Panicking

b.      Worry

c.       Under stress

d.      Not knowing what to do when under pressure


6.      None of these are wrong to be experiencing


a.       We all experience them to different degrees

b.      And at different times in our lives


7.      But none of  us expect to Get sick, Be rejected, Lack money or food, Experience stress


C.      So, when any of those things start happening, They are what we focus on – we have a NEED to fix them all


1.      And that is fine


a.       You have a problem, you seek to solve it

b.      Some of the greatest inventions we have today have been because a problem drove people to find a solution, and tada, we have answers!

c.       Necessity is the mother of invention they say!

d.      You have a weakness, and so you start exercising, eating better, working-out, and tada, you are stronger now

e.       You are sick, and so you rest, and change your diet, and usually, tada, you are back on your feet

f.        You have a failure, so you try again, and after a few attempts, tada, you finally succeed!

g.       Those are all good endings!


2.      But when the problems you are having can’t be fixed, what are we to do?

3.      We usually end up frustrated, and angry at ourselves and at our weaknesses, and ultimately bitter at life!

4.      What does Jesus, Paul, and all Bible believing Christians throughout time teach us what to do?

5.      Have and use grace instead!


D.     This morning, God shows us in His word How to battle our weaknesses with ‘Grace’. How to use this “grace” instead of using anger, or yelling, fighting, giving up, or whatever!


II.    Message


A.     God’s Grace Works! (2Cor 12:9)


1.      Better than all my best efforts

2.      Why?

3.      Because it accesses the “power of Christ”


a.       We are talking about the power of the Son of God (Mt 26:47-53; John 18:3-6)

b.      This is the Man who by Himself got up from the grave – He was very dead, and then got up! That’s power

c.       He took ALL the sins of the whole world on Himself and received the full punishment for all of them while on the cross, and triumphantly cried out It Is Finished! That’s power!

d.      He forgave those that had put Him wrongly on the cross – I would have been only ANGRY! Jesus was only full of grace!

e.       He loved sinners – from start to finish!

f.        He fed 5,000 men with only five small loaves of bread and two small fish – that’s great power!

g.       He walked on water – and not just calm water, but on a stormy sea


4.      Compare YOUR abilities with HIS

5.      You think you are weak? Well, definitely HE is strong!

6.      If you could see Christ’s power working through YOUR life, would you want it?

7.      Paul did! I do!

8.      Because it works!


B.     But For Grace to Work, We Need to Need God (2Cor 12:8)


1.      Thorns are necessary


a.       That thorn was a constant reminder just how weak Paul was without God

b.      The blessings of God did not help Paul remember to pray

c.       But that thorn – that pain – that hurt – that wince – reminded him to bow his head and cry out to God for help and strength to go another step, and then another!


2.      Paul needed to NEED God


a.       Paul was not sinning and in rebellion against God. He was saved. Walking in the power of the Spirit of Christ.

b.      But he still, every day, needed to need God


3.      And so do you and I


a.       It doesn’t matter how long a person has been a born again Christian

b.      It doesn’t matter how much of the Bible you have memorised

c.       It doesn’t matter how much you may have done for God with your life

d.      You still need God

e.       And God gives us things to get us to NEED to NEED God


4.      So, at every disappointment, at every time of weakness, every time you lack what you need, and have no way of getting what you need, pray, and go to the throne of GRACE (Heb 4:12)


a.       Paul didn't just pray

b.      He learned to pray, and pray and pray again and again

c.       That was good!

d.      We need to pray

e.       But God knows that we won’t unless we need to

f.        So ladies and gentlemen – God gets us thankfully to NEED to NEED to pray


5.      So next time you find yourself driven to your knees in desperation… thank God!

6.      That’s where GRACE begins!


C.      We Need Not Just God – But God’s Grace:


1.      We need grace, more than we need anything else in life (Heb 4:16)


a.       I want God’s blessings, His answers to my prayers

b.      But what I need more than health, houses, friends, money, wisdom…

c.       Is God’s grace

d.      We have forgotten this today!

e.       We think we only need a bit of popularity, a bit of fun, some money in the bank, a great looking girlfriend, and a good job!

f.        But all that passes

g.       And one day, we will discover that we need God to be kind to us even though we have been so wrong

h.      We will need God to help us, even though we lived like we don’t need Him


2.      We need God’s GRACE, instead on only His blessings.


a.       We need Him to help us stay married – not give us a new mate

b.      We need His grace to help us stay soft, and kind, and forgiving

c.       We need His grace to pray for those that hurt us and use us

d.      We need GRACE


3.      What is Grace?


a.       Grace is greater than all our best performances, good works (Eph 2:8,9) – all ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6) – we need something much better!

b.      Grace makes up for all our worst sins and failures (Rom 5:20)

c.       God’s grace doesn’t remove all our problems – it sustains us IN our problems


1)     We WANT God to overcome our failures


a)     Yet Grace USES OUR FAILURES for good


2)     We want grace to make us strong for every struggle


a)     Yet Grace is GOD showing that HE Himself alone is strong

b)     And that all we need to do is NEED Him!


3)     It is the WAY that God does great things through weak things


a)     Through stutterers

b)     Through donkeys

c)      Through storms

d)     Through fastings


4.      GRACE is the only way to access the power of God’s Son in our lives, working through our weaknesses


a.       A greater power than our flaws, failures, lacks

b.      AND a greater power than our anger  and frustrations!

c.       The power of the Son of God!

d.      Does anybody believe He has power anymore?

e.       Does anyone here realise He is holding everything together all over the entire universe? (Col 1:16,17)


D.     We Need to Make a Choice (2Cor 12:9,10)


1.      Our normal way that we handle failure, embarrassment, lack, and panic…

2.      Is to get angry (Now I am getting down to where we all live!)

3.      Everyone experiences problems


a.       But when problems don’t get fixed, we get frustrated

b.      When we stay frustrated for very long, we get angry

c.       When our anger doesn’t get put away, we become bitter

d.      And when any of us get bitter, the devil has taken charge, instead of Christ!


4.      But, anger, wrath, bitterness never really works in our favour in the long run

5.      As a matter of fact, it is a doorway for the devil to step in and completely ruin us (Eph 4:26,27)

6.      Notice how Paul chooses differently now (2Cor 12:9,10)


a.       Paul saw how stupid it was to fight and argue with and get made at God

b.      He rather chooses to (“Will I rather…”)


1)     Glory

2)     Most gladly…

3)     Take pleasure

4)     Accept

5)     Thank God for

6)     Every weakness, failed attempt, lack of money, hurt and even every enemy


c.       A choice – a constant reoccurring choice by the way

d.      To face my problems, failings by the power of grace!

e.       And I do it for Christ’s sake


1)     Because He is worthy

2)     Because I trust His ways

3)     Because what this world needs is to see GRACE, not brilliance

4)     GRACE not wealth and riches

5)     GRACE not fame and popularity

6)     GRACE not fantastic abilities

7)     This world needs to see some frail, weak, stressed out, poor, humiliated Christians staying on course and winning souls and preaching the Gospel, and loving those that hate them, and sacrificing their lives so that Jesus alone gets all the glory, all the honour, all the praise and all the worship!


E.      So, Grow in Grace, not in criticism and judgmentalism (2Peter 3:18; 1:2)


1.      Grace is always enough for you to put up with troubles

2.      God can make all grace abound towards you (2Cor 9:8) – all that you need

3.      It is like air.


a.       No man can inhale a sufficient amount of air into his lungs to sustain him for a day. Yet there is air a plenty around this planet of ours to sustain him breath by breath.

b.      Likewise, there is enough of God’s grace to sustain us moment by moment. We need not worry about the future! God’s grace will sustain us until we get all the way home to heaven!


F.      How Anyone Can Access Grace:


1.      Grace is a GIFT, already paid for by Jesus – it is His nature to give grace

2.      So, Humble Yourself. Grace comes only by humility (1Peter 5:5; James 4:6)


a.       YOU humbling yourself and admitting just how much you need Jesus!

b.      Quit complaining, and fighting and arguing and blaming

c.       And cry out to God that it is YOU that is messed up and wrong and in need of Him!


3.      Believe on Him! Jesus is full of grace (John 1:14)

4.      Fall in love with Jesus! Grace happens naturally as you love the Lord Jesus (Eph 6:24)

5.      Live by Faith - Faith accesses grace (Rom 5:2).


a.       Simple child-like believing faith

b.      Not blind faith, believing whatever you dream up

c.       But believing what Christ has surely promised in this Book


6.      Thank Him for EVERYTHING in your life! Thanksgiving opens up grace (2Cor 4:15)


a.       For the infirmities

b.      Reproaches

c.       Necessities

d.      Persecutions

e.       Distresses


III. Invitation


A.     This month we have learned some more about Grace – God’s amazing grace

B.     But how do we USE it, when we feel like quitting, like getting angry, like we are going to explode?

C.      Remember that we need to need God – and our troubles, thorns are there to simply remind us of that – not to ruin us, but help us go low and become desperate for God

D.     And we need God’s GRACE, instead on only His blessings.


1.      We need Him to help us stay married – not give us a new mate

2.      We need His grace to help us stay soft, and kind, and forgiving

3.      We need His grace to pray for those that hurt us and use us

4.      We need GRACE


E.      We Need to Make a Choice – the only choice


1.      To rejoice, be glad, Take pleasure, Accept

2.      And Thank God for every weakness, failed attempt, lack of money, hurt and even every enemy

3.      All for Christ’s sake


F.      How is YOUR Grace?


1.      Is it growing, or shrinking

2.      Compare it to your complaining, blaming, criticisms, judging of others


G.     It’s time to accept God’s Amazing Grace for yourself


1.      Humbly believing on Jesus

2.      Following Him and His word