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 Morning Meditation - 9/20/08

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PostSubject: Morning Meditation - 9/20/08   Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:38 am

THE DISTRESS OF WEAKNESS
2 Cor. 12:7-10

Verses 6-10 says, “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. “
Weakness is something dreaded by most people. We exalt people of strength.
The “Mr. Atlas” syndrome has been an obsession with people for a long time. This idea comes from the natural man. Since believers still have an old sin nature, we are plagued with this problem. God gave Paul what is called in this passage as a “thorn in the flesh. “ Our meditation will deal with four things that are suggested by this.

FOOLS GLORY IN ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Verse 7 says, “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.” Paul went out of the way to make sure that Christians did not credit him for the work he was doing. Paul credited God for being the one that enabled all his success.
Some of the brethren in the church at Corinth were arguing about their favorite preachers. Paul says in chapter 3 verse 4-8: “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” I’m glad Paul dealt with this in an undeniable way. There are many today who are glorying in preacher-flesh and they might easily take me to task on this. But for them to do it, would have Paul calling them fools. I don’t think they want that.

THE BEST WILL GO WRONG WITHOUT GOD’S INVOLVEMENT

Verse 7 says, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
I can think of no one who walked closer to the Lord than Paul. I can think of no one who had a better understanding on the self life and it’s dangers than Paul. Yet with all of this, he would have been exalted above measure unless God had permitted Satan to do something to him that would be a constant reminder of his humanity. Only Christ could do all that He did without self glory. This passage is a reminder to us of the dangers of success.
Is this the reason that so many who are mightily used of God fall by the wayside? Is it possible that they did not recognize the weakness of the flesh to take credit for what Christ does? Could this be the reason that great revivals in the past like the one in Wales did not last? Could this be the reason that great churches that reached an enormous number of souls died? It is a fact that most do not survive their success. The flesh gets involved in great Holy Spirit empowered movements, and when it does, the Holy Spirit moves out. All you have after the Holy Spirit moves out is a monument.
If we want to be used of God, we must be willing for Him in His infinite wisdom to keep a watch on our attitudes, and submit immediately to anything He allows in our lives to caution us.
Next we see,

PAUL GETS WHAT HE WANTS BUT NOT WHAT HE ASKED

Paul tells us what he wants more than anything else. I want to encourage you to read Philippians chapter 3. I call you attention to verse 10-11:
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Paul’s great desire is stated in these verses. I just want us to look at one statement in the verse for the present. Paul says he wants to know the power of His resurrection. What does he mean? Hadn’t Paul partaken of the power of His resurrection when he was born again? Every believer does (Eph. 2:1). He is not speaking of the experience of salvation here, but the Power of the Holy Spirit to live a holy life, even to the point of dying a martyr’s death, if called upon to do so. I believe if you study the life of Paul you will discover that he got his desire.

Verse 11 says, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” and states what he means. The words “I might attain” is an aorist active subjunctive verb. The aorist tense refers to a point of time. The subjunctive mood is potential but has not yet happened. Paul says, “this is my desire, it has not yet happened, but I am aiming at this goal, and I believe it is possible.” Robertson quotes Vincent: “Not an expression of doubt, but of humility.” Lightfoot says of Paul’s desire, “A modest hope.” Paul desires to walk in full resurrection power while alive on this earth. Resurrection power is what makes us like Jesus. It is not rule keeping. It is the life that is Christ (Gal. 2:20).
Paul asked the Lord three times for the removal of the thorn as recorded in verse 8: “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.”

Robertson’s Word Pictures say, “Concerning this thing” More likely, “concerning this messenger of Satan” that it might depart from me. Aorist active (intransitive) subjunctive of in final clause, “that he stand off from me for good.” If I am understanding Robertson correctly here he is suggesting a demon sent by Satan to torment Paul. I’m not for sure I agree with his conclusion. If it were a demon, I believe it was one that afflicted him physically.
There is a case recorded in Luke 13:11-13 where a woman was affected physically by a spirit: “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” There are other verses that clearly teach that evil spirits can afflict one physically. Job is an Old Testament illustration. I want to state plainly that I do not know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. I do know what a thorn is. I do know what the flesh is. I do know that if you get a thorn in your flesh and you don’t get it out, it will hurt and fester and be a constant problem. Whatever it was it was a constant pain to Paul and WEAKENED him.

Paul asked three times for the removal of this thorn. He was used to getting his prayers answered in a hurry. I would have prayed many more times than that before I suspected something was wrong!!! Not Paul. And God answered him and gave him what he wanted but not what he asked. Paul wanted POWER. He asked for the removal of the thorn. How did God answer Paul?

Verse 9 tells us: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul discovered that our weakness is a given need to which God is willing to respond as faith looks to Him with expectation. Paul was a man of faith and a man of submission to the Lordship of Christ. God gave Paul grace to bear the thorn that rendered him weak so that the power of Christ might rest upon him. The Lord said, “for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The word “strength” translates “dunamis” and means, “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” This is a God given ability. It is HIS STRENGTH. The words “is perfected” are a present passive indicative of a word that means, “to finish.” Robertson says, “It is linear in idea. Power is continually increased as the weakness grows.” This idea is totally foreign to the natural man. Next we see,

THE PLEASURE OF PERSONAL WEAKNESS

This is brought out in verse 10: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” All the things that Paul mentions here speak of weaknesses. How does he respond? He says, “Therefore I take pleasure” in these things and then he gives the reason, “for when I am weak, then am I strong.” This is death to self. It is refusing to react in the flesh. It is submitting to the Lordship of Christ and rejoicing over anything that He allows to come into one’s life.

Do we believe in God’s sovereignty? Absolutely nothing can come into our lives that He does not allow. I know, this is a mystery. But if our one aim is to glorify Him, then circumstances with all that goes with it, promotes His purpose in our lives. Therefore, we can rejoice with Paul. The word “pleasure” translates “eudokeo” and means, “to be well pleased with, take pleasure in, to be favorably inclined towards.” It is a present tense means that this is how I feel about these things continually.

Weaknesses cause distress. I have had the feeling. It is still a problem. It is a constant discipline for us to maintain an attitude of trust when bad things happen. His power is still made perfect in our weakness. We need to take pleasure in these things knowing that He is allowing a need to arise to which He is willing to respond if we are willing to look to Him with expectation.

May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.
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