Author Archives: Debbie Gabbara

Lesson Eighteen • Devotion • Devotion #2: Grace, Grace, God’s Grace

As I read through 2 Corinthians chapter 12 in preparation for writing this devotion, an old hymn began to run through my mind. It is a song that tells of God’s grace. God’s love for us is matchless and His grace is greater than all our sin.  

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

The measure of God’s grace is unfathomable. While we were sinners and completely unlovable, Christ not only loved us, He left Heaven and came to this fallen Earth and died on a cross for us. God loves every one of us enough to pursue us, just as He did the Apostle Paul. Paul had to be struck blind before he saw the grace of God. 

Paul’s life as an apostle was hard, he was beaten, and imprisoned multiple times for spreading the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:5, he boasted of his weakness. It was a weakness that led to total dependence on the strength of the Lord.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 (NLT), we read, “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

So many things in life can make us feel weak. Illness, sadness, loss, anger, pain, depression, or even lack of sleep, can all cause us to have feelings of weakness. We do not know what the “thorn” was that Paul refers to here in Scripture, but we do read that it caused him to feel weakness and he asked the Lord to take it away.  

Scripture records Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” We can confidently believe that Paul found his strength in God as we read his story throughout the New Testament. Once a teacher of the law and persecutor of Christians, Paul’s life took a dramatic change after he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. Scholars say that Paul traveled over 10,000 miles on his missionary journeys as he labored to tell as many people as he could of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

The incredible thing about our great God is, as much grace as He pours out, He never has any less grace to give. Like Paul, we are made stronger in Christ. God’s grace will always be sufficient for whatever weakness we may encounter in this life. His grace is still freely bestowed on all who believe.  

“So let us come boldly 

to the throne of our gracious God. 

There we will receive his mercy,

and we will find grace 

to help us when we need it most.” 

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Lesson Fourteen • Devotion #6: Be a Cheerful Giver

“I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.” 2 Corinthians 9:1-2

I love the way this passage of Scripture begins. Paul is excited about the generosity of the people in Corinth. He has been boasting of how eager they are to help others. Their excitement and enthusiasm was an encouragement to other believers.  

We find the Corinthians here giving to the work of the church. God starts in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, teaching us to give to the work of God. Paul continues the Lord’s teaching and in 2 Corinthians 9:7b-8 (NLT), says: “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 

When we moved into the warehouse at the Holly location we raised money to purchase additional chairs. My heart was so excited to think about someone coming to the church and hearing the Gospel for the first time while sitting in a chair that had been purchased with the help of our church body.  

The Bible mentions money over 800 times and more than half of the parables that Jesus taught were lessons about money. Our wise God knew that we would need a lot of direction in this area. The Psalms say that the Lord delights in His people. Would it not be incredible to know that we excited God with our generous giving? Scripture says, when we sow generously, we will also reap generously.  

The typical title for 2 Corinthians chapter 9 is “God loves a cheerful giver.” I see it in all of my Bibles. What a great title!  We should be cheerful when we give to God, after all, God generously provided all that we have!   

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Lesson Eight • Devotion #1: Treasure in Clay Jars

My daughter loves pottery. Years ago, at an art show, she found a potter who had given us both an appreciation for handcrafted art. When my daughter first discovered the world of pottery, she bought a couple of small pieces. That night, when she got home, we talked about the art show as she revealed her treasures. The artist is an incredible craftsman; over the years we have both collected many beautiful pieces. He made the canisters that I use and also the most unique teapot that I have ever seen. They look beautiful on my kitchen counter and remind me of the wonderful times my daughter and I have had together wandering through the potter’s booth and thoughtfully choosing something special to bring home.  

Like so much in life, pottery is fragile and can easily be broken. The lid for one my canisters was dropped on the day when I was cleaning it and now has a chip in the top. I do not think anyone notices the flaw, but I know it is there and always turn it to the back when I see it.

Did you know that God is called a potter? Isaiah 64:8 (NLT) says, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” God is the potter and we are the clay. Think about that. The God of the universe formed each of us, we are the work of His hands. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT), we read, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 

In 2 Corinthians, Paul refers to our bodies as clay jars. There, God’s Word tells us that our fragile earthly bodies will waste away, yet because of the power of God, our spirits are being renewed day by day. Like that canister lid, we all have some broken and flawed areas in our lives. Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of life. When we are saved through faith and begin a relationship with Him, God no longer sees our sin but sees us as filled with the treasure of the Gospel. One day all believers will be completely renewed and free of our flaws and troubles. So, fix your gaze on Jesus and let your light shine for Him!

Finally, in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT), we read, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 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.”

Lesson Three • Devotion #6: Be an Encourager

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:1-2

When was the last time you received a letter in the mail? I am not talking about junk mail, with a computer label with your name spelled wrong, but an envelope with a handwritten address sent to you by someone that cares about you? 

In 2005, my son joined the Marines. While he was in boot camp, he did not have access to a telephone, so the only communication we had with him was through letters. For thirteen weeks, he wrote letters on Sundays and sent them home. I checked the mailbox every day looking for his handwriting, hoping to find a letter to tell me how the one I loved and prayed for was doing. Those letters are still a treasure to me.   

The Apostle Paul was a letter writer. His letters are scattered through the New Testament, and today we can be inspired by the words that Paul wrote to encourage those in the cities that he traveled to as he spread the Gospel. Paul covered thousands of miles in his missionary journeys, and he grew to care about the people that he met in his travels. He kept in contact with them by writing to them. Paul’s letters encouraged the new believers. His letters let them know that he had not forgotten about them and reminded them of the love God had for them. He also wrote to remind them how a follower of Jesus was supposed to live. Even though Paul encountered many hardships and suffered tremendously for preaching the Gospel of Jesus, he continued sending letters to encourage believers to stay strong in their walk with the Lord.  

Paul’s letters encouraged the believers of his day, and they still encourage believers today.

In his letters, Paul reminds us how much God loves us. In Romans 5:8, he says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Paul encourages us to pray in Philippians 4:6, saying, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

Paul reminds us that we are strong when we depend on Christ Jesus. In Philippians 4:13 (NKJV), he says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV), Paul encourages us to encourage others. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 

Go to God’s Word, read Paul’s letters, and be encouraged. Who can you be an encouragement to today?

Reach • Devotion #6: Hard Work

All my life I have been motivated to work hard and do my best. I remember being about 15 years old and telling my dad about something that I wanted. He was quick to find a way for me to work to earn the money so that I could buy it. It did not come easily or quickly, but my hard work paid off. My dad was an awesome man who led by example. He was a hard worker and excelled in his work positions. He was kind and generous with my sister and me, but he also raised us to know that money did not grow on trees (I think we have all heard that one) and that hard work and responsibility would take us far in life. Of course, he was right. I have been blessed to have many wonderful instructors in my life. I have tried to work hard and be a good employee. Throughout most of my career, I was in positions where I was given the opportunity to manage, teach, and lead others to succeed. 

In 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT), we read, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” 

It was always easy to work hard, it was not always easy for me to share the Gospel with others. I spent years out of the will of God. Fortunately, by the grace of God, I have spent more than twice as many years seeking the Lord and telling of His gracious forgiving love. Even when we do not know Scripture well, we can always tell of what God has done for us!

As we read through Scripture and see verses like this one in 2 Timothy, we find Paul teaching and leading Timothy as he urges him to see himself as a worker who seeks to please God and to be one “who correctly explains the word of truth.” 

Timothy had spent years learning from Paul as they traveled and preached the good news of Jesus. Here Paul is encouraging and instructing Timothy to pass on the truths of the Gospel. Paul reminds Timothy not to be ashamed of the Gospel. The truth may not always be easy to hear but it is always a firm foundation.

Paul penned these words in 2 Timothy 2:19 (NLT), “But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and ‘All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.’”

Just as God puts special people in our lives, God put Paul in Timothy’s life. Paul’s instruction to Timothy was that he was to be a man who would be a witness to Christ’s love by the example of his life. Paul wanted Timothy to be able to carry on in the work of the Great Commission in a responsible and effective way without getting caught up in things that would hinder his progress. 

I had a wonderful dad who taught me to work hard. God, the Father, left us a manual that teaches us all we need to know to find Jesus, the Savior. It is up to us to turn away from evil, be a good worker, and to know the Scripture so that we can boldly explain the truth of the Gospel to those around us.   

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