Summary: God’s grace is always enough no matter what the circumstances may be.
Text: 2 Cor. 12:7-10
1. Illustration: A man returns from a foreign holiday and is feeling very ill. He goes to see his doctor, and is immediately rushed to the hospital to undergo tests.
The man wakes up after the tests in a private room at the hospital, shuffles to the door & finds it locked from the outside!/Just then the phone by his bed rings.
"This is your doctor. We’ve had the results back from your tests and we’ve found you have an extremely nasty virus who’s progress, so far, we are completely helpless to destroy or even slow down!"
"Oh my goodness," cried the man, "What are you going to do, doctor?"
"Well we’re going to put you on a diet of pizzas, pancakes, tortillas & pita bread."
"Will that cure me???" asked the man.
The doctor replied, "Well no, but... it’s the only food we can get under the door!"
2. Have you ever had days like that, when Murphy’s Law (Everything that can go wrong will go wrong) seems to be in full effect?
3. Well, I’m here to give you some good news this morning. The good news is this: God’s grace is always enough.
4. It’s a fact of life that:
a. God sometimes allows difficulties to come our way.
b. God’s grace is enough to handle our difficulties.
c. God’s grace gives us strength when we are weak.
1. Read 2 Cor. 12:7-10
Proposition: God’s grace is always enough no matter what the circumstances may be.
Transition: It is an inevitable fact that...
I. God Sometimes Allows Difficulties to Come Our Way (7)
A. Thorn In the Flesh
1. In this letter, Paul is dealing with some false prophets who are trying to discredit his ministry by saying that they are more spiritual than Paul because they have had superior revelations from God than Paul.
2. However, Paul points out in the beginning of this chapter that he has had revelations from God that are indescribable.
a. He says in verse 2, that one day he was caught up into "the third heaven."
b. Heaven is the abode of God and of those closely associated with him.
c. In verse 4, he says that he heard "words that it is not lawful for a man to utter."
d. What Paul heard was so wonderful that he is enable to describe it.
3. Extraordinary religious experiences often come at personal cost.
a. When Jacob wrestled with God, he hobbled away lame (Gen 32:25).
b. When Paul entered paradise, he came away with a thorn in [his] flesh (v. 7).
4. He says in verse 7, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me..."
a. Scholars and theologians have debated over the years as to what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
b. Some say it was a physical aliment of some kind.
c. Some say it was a spiritual struggle.
d. Still others say it was persecution.
5. What do I think it was? I don’t know!
a. The bible does not tell us. Not in Greek or in English.
b. Any guess that I might have is just that, a guess.
6. However, that’s not the real issue. The real issue is where did it come from. The phrase "was given to me," tells us where it came from.
a. That phrase is what scholars refer to as a "divine passive."
b. What that means is that God allowed it to happen, just as He did with Job.
c. God allowed it to happen to keep Paul from becoming proud.
7. The rest of verse 7 says, "a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure."
a. The word "buffet" means to strike or beat with the fist, either once or repeatedly—Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon
b. The context suggests that it did strike him repeatedly.
c. Paul’s thorn was not an isolated episode. It repeatedly came back to plague him--like the school bully who waits each day for his victim to round the corner.
8. God did this for Paul’s own good.
a. He knew that pride would destroy Paul.
b. He knew that pride would destroy Paul’s ministry.
c. He knew that pride would put an end to what He was doing through Paul.
B. God Allows Difficulties
1. Illustration: Suppose we go out here after church, and little Joshie sees a walnut in the middle of the highway. So he runs out in the middle of the highway to pick up the walnut, and a big semi, with Walmart written all over the side of it, comes barreling down the road. All of the sudden, Debbie becomes a track star and runs out to save him.