Scripture reading for October 1st: 2nd Corinthians 12
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul told the Corinthian church briefly about the great revelations he had received when he was caught up into the third heaven, the dwelling place of God. This place is also called ‘paradise’ and Paul was unsure whether he had gone there in bodily form or it was an ‘out of body’ experience. He had heard things there that he was forbidden by God to talk about. So Paul had a ‘thorn given me in the flesh’, ‘a messenger of Satan’ to harass him and keep him humble. Paul had prayed to God to take it away, but God spoke to him about grace. God’s favor would be sufficient for Paul. God’s power would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness. This Word brought peace to Paul and he was now content to boast in his weakness that Christ’s power would rest on him. It is interesting we do not find him binding Satan or continuing to pray for removal. He simply rested and accepted this ‘thorn’, whatever it was, allowing God’s power to rest on him. It appears that the thorns in believer’s lives can take many forms but the result is the same–weakness leading to more grace and power.
2nd Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient for me in every trial, persecution, hardship, or even calamity. For the sake of Your Son, Who was made weak by bearing my sins, I accept my weakness and Your grace. I invite You to let Your power flow through me to preach the Gospel and bring healing and salvation to the lost.
2nd Corinthians 12:14-15 “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. . . . I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. . .”
Scripture reading for June 2nd: 1st Kings 3, 2nd Chronicles 1, Psalm 42, Romans 8
Key Scriptures: Romans 8:26-29 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He Who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Paul wrote to the Romans concerning God’s help for each believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit bears witness that we are God’s children and God is our Father. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray when we are weak and don’t know how to pray. The Spirit knows all things we are going through and He knows the mind and will of God. When the Spirit intercedes, all things will work out for good to those who love God and are called of God. Faith arises inside us for calling, justification and ultimate glorification in the image of Jesus Christ!
Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”
Faith confession and prayer: Thank You Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray in the Holy Spirit to build my faith and believe all things are working out for my ultimate and eternal good and Your glory! Give me daily wisdom and conform me to Christ’s image!
1st Kings 3:9 “”Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people?””
Scripture reading for August 13th: Psalm 90-93, 2nd Corinthians 12
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul experienced great revelations from the Lord. The amazing things revealed were forbidden to be shared with others. Paul felt that the Lord also allowed a ‘thorn’ to come into his flesh from Satan to afflict him. The purpose of this ‘thorn’ was to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Paul sought God for its removal on three separate occasions. God told him that His grace was sufficient for him to endure. God’s power is revealed through weak vessels made strong by His grace.
Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””
Prayer: Lord, thank You for calling me to abide in Your family and household. May I always remember Your grace is sufficient for me and Your power is displayed through my weakness. Amen.
Scripture reading for March 8th: Judges 4-8
Key Scriptures: Judges 6:14-16 “The Lord turned to him (Gideon) and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord Answered, “I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Gideon was approached by the Lord to deliver His people from the oppression of the Midianites. He looked at his own strength and family resources and asked God how this could ever happen since he was so weak. But God promised His presence would make all the difference!
Rejoice in weakness: God chooses weak people to do supernatural things. He asks for faith and obedience! “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” . . . “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-10)
Scripture reading for September 11th: 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10
Paul continued his boasting by talking in the third person about a man who was caught up to heaven. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2nd Corinthians 12:2-4) The false apostles had stories, but Paul had a personal experience that he could only relay as if it happened to someone else. He had a vision or maybe an experience in his body that only God knew how it occurred. This person was caught up to paradise and heard some things that he was not allowed to express or tell.
Paul told them that he refrained from any more boasting so that people would not put him on a different level and cause him to have pride. God also was concerned about Paul’s pride as well! “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10)
Much has been written about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Some say it was a physical ailment related to Paul’s eyesight. Others believe it was the false apostles that continued to attack the church. Paul did seek the Lord about the removal of this thorn and God told him simply to abide in His grace. For Christ’s sake, Paul chose to delight in his weaknesses and trials for the Gospel. He learned that Christ’s power rested on him and worked through him in these trials. We can all learn from this truth!
Scripture reading for September 10th: 2nd Corinthians 11:16-33
Paul continued to write to the Corinthians about the contrast between his ministry and that of the false teachers. He was jealous for them as one who had promised them to Christ. (2nd Corinthians 11:1-3) Paul turned to the use of sarcasm and boasting to try and open their hearts again.
“I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!” (2nd Corinthians 11:16-21) Paul admitted that boasting was not from the Lord. He was using the world’s ways like the fools who had used these methods to enslave the Corinthians. He sarcastically remarked that they put up with fools because ‘they were so wise’! Paul himself never exploited them or took advantage of them.
Paul’s credentials as an apostle were then laid out for them. He was a Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham. He was a servant of Christ who had endured prison, flogging, beatings with rods, stoning, and shipwreck. He had been constantly on the move, avoiding bandits, persecution from other Jews, false brothers, and Gentiles. He went without sleep, was hungry and thirsty, and cold and naked. All this he had endured for the cause of Jesus Christ!
A greater concern than the physical dangers he suffered was his care for all the churches. (2nd Corinthians 11:28-29) Paul hurt with those who were weak and in danger of leaving the faith. He felt a deep burden when one of the brothers or sisters was led into sin by Satan or false teachers. His boasting was not of his great strength, prophesies, preaching and powerful miracles. He was boasting in his weakness and God’s faithfulness to bring him through! Do you boast of your weakness and trials, or of your own accomplishments? May we all be ‘fools for Christ’!
Scripture reading for September 13th: 2nd Corinthians 13:1-14
Paul was coming for his third visit and promised to address their problems with the sins he listed. Some people there were questioning Paul’s authority and the power of Christ. He told them that every matter would be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. He had warned them on the second visit and now was prepared to deal with those who had not repented. “. . .since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:3-4) It was Christ’s power in Paul’s weak body that made him a servant of Christ to help them. Christ would not put up with sin in His body!
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2nd Corinthians 13:5-6) Paul told them to test themselves for Christ in their life. The real test of true Christianity is Christ living in us. Paul knew that Christ lived in his body and was confident that these Corinthians would see that in him. (Galatians 2:20) They also would be able to know whether or not Christ was in them!
Paul was writing this letter to help these Corinthian Christian make the needed corrections in their lives before he came and would need to use his authority in person. His desire and Christ’s was for their perfection! His final words showed his heart to these brothers: “Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:11)
If we will take godly correction from those God places in our lives, we will make progress towards perfection! If we don’t aim for perfection, we surely won’t hit it by accident! We must help one another in order to make progress and to work at living in peace. God will work in us and love us to perfection!