The Ministry of Thorns
Sermon shared by Philip Harrelson
Summary: Thorns create a dependence on God
Audience: General adults
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2 Corinthians 12:7-10 -- “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.” or 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.”
l. INTRODUCTION -- THE STRANGENESS OF GOD’S WAYS
-Whenever one reads this portion of Scripture, it stands out to us that often there is a sense of strangeness about the processes of God. Here, at the height of spiritual power, at the point of revival, a calamity sets in on the life of the great apostle Paul.
-It probably is best illustrated in the life of Peter, as to the paradox of the working of God in our own lives. Peter was impetuous and outspoken and some of the things that he said was not always couched in wisdom nor in tact. Consider the pattern:
• Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (Luke 5:8)
• Lo, we have left all and followed thee. (Luke 18:28)
• What shall we have therefore? Be it far from Thee, Lord. (Matthew 16:22)
• Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. (Matthew 14:28)
• Lord, save me. (Matthew 14:30)
• The crowd press Thee, and how sayest Thou, Who touched me? (Mark 5:31; Luke 8:45)
• Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; John 11:27)
• To whom can we go but unto Thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)
• Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tabernacles: one for Thee and one for Moses, and one for Elias.(Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33)
• How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? (Matthew 18:21)
• Though all men deny Thee, yet will not I. (Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31)
• Thou shalt never wash my feet. (John 13:8)
• Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head. (John 13:9)
• I know not the man. (Matthew 26:74)
• Lord, Thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love Thee. (John 21:15-17)
• Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. (Acts 10:14; 10:28; 11:8)
• Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us; what was I that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:17)
-This is just a sampling of some of Peter’s comments. His words mark him. Often hastily rushing into sacred territory like a blind bull, full of arrogance. On the other hand, despite these heady remarks that Peter made, his heart was always close to repentance. As with the Lake scene, attempting to tread waters much to deep for him but willing to cry out to the Master as he began to sink.
-Often, as it is our nature, the inability to comprehend the way that God will work through us and with us and in us. Yet, it thrills God to bring power out of weakness.
-Great spiritual power, yet the presence of the nagging thorn.
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