Sufficient Grace

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Recently my son Daniel and I were out in the front yard tossing a football around.  We were having a great time until he lost his balance going for an amazing catch.  He got tripped up and fell into the rose bushes.  Ouch!  Not good!   He shook it off and said he was just fine, but we wince at the sight.  Rose bushes have thorns.  And thorns hurt.

We all have our experiences with the thorns of life.  John Piper said, “Life IS a bed of roses.  Thorns included!”  The Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about thorns as well.  And his experience teaches us about the misery of the thorn and the ministry of the thorn.

[7] 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. [8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. [9] 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. [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.     II Corinthians 12:7-10

As far as the misery of the thorn goes, this language takes us back to the beginning of the Bible.  It’s the language of the curse found in Genesis 3.  “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring for you…”  The thorn has become for us a metaphor for chronic pain.  And in Paul’s experience, it had a satanic element.  Whatever Paul’s thorn was, the Enemy used it to harass this man of God.

But praise God for the ministry of the thorn.  It was something to keep Paul humble, deterring spiritual pride after having literally a heavenly experience with God.  Not only did it keep him pinned to the ground after a visit to Paradise, it drew him in to deepened prayer.  Through the thorn experience, Jesus revealed His sufficient grace.   Jesus promised to perfect His power in the Apostle Paul in times of weakness.

We all have experiences of life that are painful, draining and frustrating.  It’s life in a fallen world.   But whatever thorn in the flesh you may experience, Jesus says the same to you.  “My grace is sufficient for you.”

His support and loving kindness will never be exhausted or depleted.  He desires to keep it flowing into your life.  He will fill you with the substance you need to carry on so Satan won’t have the victory.   In the hardship, His power will rest upon you.  Your character will be deepened that you will be an ambassador for the kingdom with a unique and distinctive presence of God’s grace upon your life.

Pastor Jeff

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