God’s Grace in Difficult Times

The majority of the New Testament writings begin and end with the mention of help from heaven in the form of grace that comes to us by the Spirit of God. Grace saves us, and it is grace that consistently changes us through the glorious agony of sanctification as we live our everyday lives. When grace is our tutor unto Christlikeness, whether things are good or bad, we are pressed to forget those things which are behind and to move forward unto the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We pursue Christ, allowing His grace to mold us into His image.

 

God’s grace has pressed and grown us as a church body towards the goal of Christlikeness. Grace Church of Mentor has been strengthened in Christ in some very specific ways during these past pandemic months as mentioned in some specific New Testament books. These books have grace as their first and final thought: Romans 1:5, 16:24; 1 Cor. 1:3, 16:23; 2 Corinthians 1:2, 13:14; Galatians 1:3, 6:18; Ephesians 1:2, 6:21; Philippians 1:2, 4:23; Col. 1:2, 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:2, 6:21; 2 Timothy 1:2, 4:22; Titus 1:4, 3:15; Philemon 3, 25; 1 Peter 1:2, 5:12; 2 Peter 1:2, 3:18.

Paul instructed the Romans that Christ is our security and rest, now and forever (Romans 8:35-39). God’s grace has grown our church body as we have owned this truth in conviction.

Paul addresses division in the Corinthian church, and our church endured a potential opportunity for division as well. Striving to remain together during these past months, our church body chose to see Christ over the one another’s shoulder. We were pressed by grace to maintain that singular identity in Him to the glory of God. The purity of the church was also maintained by our body, just as Paul had challenged the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 5). We have valued the church body’s nature and influence in our lives, realizing that every soul is essential (1 Cor. 12:13-14). Grace pressed us to be together for Christ’s sake even in quarantine.

We were all challenged to value the eternal over the temporal (2 Cor. 4:5). When the hardest times come, the faithful in Christ persevere in virtuous living (2 Cor. 5:17). Our church body grew in graciousness and generosity as God’s grace pressed us to care for the flock during the pandemic. Like the Macedonians, so many in our church body have chosen to do what is right with what God has given them for eternal purpose (2 Cor. 8:9).

Despite the temptation to adopt a different and accursed gospel (social, political, scientific, etc.), our church body has allowed God’s grace to maintain the pure gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). Embracing the blessed truths of salvation (Eph. 1), unity among our church body has been maintained (Eph. 4) by God’s grace which compelled us to take up the full armor of God each day (Eph. 6).

Our church body allowed affliction to further the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1). Grace challenged us to remember the value of the spiritual influence of others in our church body to grow us more in Christlikeness. We endeavored creatively to be together in cause for the gospel’s sake. God’s grace allowed us to find our contentment in Christ (Phil. 4) during that difficult time.

Paul reminds the Colossians that it is grace that has formed them to be what they are. Like the Colossians, our church body has found Christ to be incomparable. Grace grew each of us personally, domestically, vocationally, and evangelistically (Col. 3-4) these past months.

Like the Thessalonians, our flock has sought to own our salvation to the point of helping others in the community and our church body live for God (1 Thes. 2-3). Grace has stirred up the desire for prayer amongst us. God’s grace has emboldened us to pray for the rapid advance of the gospel and for protection from wicked and unreasonable men (2 Thes. 3). Praise be to God, who has kept this church body safe.

Regardless of who is ruling, God’s grace commands us to pray for the salvation of all those in authority that we might have a quiet life within the church and peaceable life in our society (1 Tim. 2:1-4). On our knees in prayer, this church body has a powerful influence on the world.

God’s grace has allowed us to endure personal attack during these last couple of years (2 Tim. 3:10-12). All those who live righteously will be persecuted, and by God’s grace we will continue to persevere.

In these past months of crisis and unbelief, God’s grace pressed us to listen to the older saints in our church body (Titus 2), following them as they follow Christ. God’s grace continues to compel us to pursue good works for the gospel’s sake.

Like Philemon, our flock has learned that forgiveness by the unifying grace of God is always greater than the crisis.

Our church body has been blessed by unity and Christlikeness by the grace of God in our marriages during this pandemic (1 Peter 3). God’s grace continues to enable us in our homes to pursue and live out the truth of our identity in Christ Jesus despite all the issues with which our culture is struggling. Godly virtues have been developed in us as we have persevered through these recent difficulties (2 Peter 1:5-7). Those who embrace these virtues and endure to grow in them by God’s grace will have a glorious entrance into the presence of Christ. Our church body has gained a perspective that the judgement of the Lord is sure and certain upon all forms of unbelief (2 Peter 3). Our flock chooses to grow in God’s grace and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus until the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:17-18).

Application Points

  • Have you been living life in your own strength instead of depending on the Lord’s grace?
  • During the calamity God has allowed in your life, have you leaned upon His divine help from heaven, His grace, to change you more into Christlikeness?
  • Have you taken time to consider and to give thanks for the many areas in which God’s grace has enabled you to overcome difficulty these last couple years?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 8:15; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:25; 15:4-5; Eph. 6:18; 2 Thes. 1:4; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10; 2 Pet. 1:6 - Perseverance
A Hymn to Encourage: "Not I, but Christ"

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action;
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
Oh, to be lost in Thee;
Oh, that it may be no more I,
But Christ that lives in me.