1 CORINTHIANS 15:10 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Sep 26-Oct 3)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
SERIES INTRO: This is the 4th part in a new series looking at the concept of Grace. What is it? Grace in Christian theology is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings” (Google dictionary). Grace is a hard word for us to understand. However, no word in the Bible is perhaps more important for us to understand. It is the foundation that underpins our understanding of how Salvation works and how God interacts with Believers. Let's spend some time trying to understand God's wonderful grace.
THIS WEEK: We're looking at two common types and measures of grace this week with which we probably all have some familiarity. The FIRST type of grace we will look at is among Believers who receive physical blessings in their lives. God gives abundant grace with physical blessings to some for His purposes. We see Believers who are healed of terrible illnesses, rescued from impossible situations, and never experience poverty. Regarding wealth and abundance, Paul instructs rich Christians not to be conceited in 1 Timothy, but to acknowledge that all good things come from God, not themselves - they are wealthy through God's grace, not their own efforts. Similarly, there are many healings of diseases, chronic illnesses, mental/spiritual conditions, injuries, and genetic defects recorded in the New Testament. This would be included under the blessings bestowed by God as grace. The Holy Spirit through Peter and John healed the lame beggar by the temple, but there were many other lame beggars in Israel who did not receive healing. This man received grace for the purposes of God. In Jesus' ministry, alone, many were healed in Israel - at least among those that were near enough to travel to see him, could afford to do so, or were in the right place at the right time. But what about all the other people in the world who would have believed on Him had He visited them? There were also many Jews in Greece and Rome, and surely there were among them those suffering from ailments. But God gave physical grace to those in Israel who happened to come in contact with Jesus, while many others did not and could not. Were they any less loved or approved by God? No. It was God's unmerited grace that those who came in contact with Jesus found healing and restoration.
The SECOND type of grace involves spiritual blessings bestowed by God while having to endure physical hardships. God doesn’t always give grace with physical blessings. Often, He gives grace with spiritual blessings – also for His purposes. We see believers who go through awful experiences, but they are able to bear it calmly and even joyfully. We marvel at how much of a testimony they are in situations we can hardly imagine going through. In Peter's letter to scattered believers, he reflects on how they rejoice even while enduring distressing affliction. Without God's grace, it is impossible to have joy in pain. Similarly, Paul shares with the Church at Corinth how the Churches of Macedonia experienced great grace in their terrible physical trials and difficulties. It seems the more affliction they suffered, the more joy they were given by God. And while they were made poor in the world, but God gave them grace to overflow with generosity to the Saints. Paul shares this perhaps to shame the Church at Corinth, which had been blessed with wealth by the grace of God, but had become conceited. Paul is reminding them that God's grace is unmerited and comes to each of us differently. God gives His grace according to His purposes in your life, and those purposes may be different than His purposes for your Believing neighbor, who also is given grace. God gives His grace for His own glory and our eternal good. We don't always understand why things are the way they are, but if we believe the Scriptures, we know that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28b). In hardship and trials this can be difficult to hold onto, especially as we will see next week when we look at a third type of grace bestowed on Believers.
May we thank God for the amazing grace He has bestowed in our lives, which enables us to be what we are! Even so, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
“And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him” (Acts 28:8).
“But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses” (Luke 5:15).
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, ‘Look at us!’ And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!’ And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:1-8).
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:32-38).
“Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” (1 Peter 1:5-6).
“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).