Sermons

Summary: Compassion, ministry endurance, hope

THORNS OF THE FLESH

2 Cor. 1:3-11 (p816) Sept. 23, 2012

INTRODUCTION:

It’s not the first time I’ve heard of a team or a class doing this…and I’m sure it won’t be the last…

But it makes my heart smile a little every time I read about an entire team shaving their heads in unity and support of a cancer fighting teammate…

Matt Graeff is the middle linebacker for the Huskies, Mammoth High School’s football team in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

The coaches have made Greaff an honorary coach, but wish he could be on the field with his fellow teammates.

Matt’s gonna miss the entire season as he undergoes chemo therapy…That’s Matt serving as the backer when this picture was taken on August 15… [show picture]

He said, “It’s scary going through all the treatments and stuff, but now he feels like he’s not fighting the battle alone”

The Huskies have dedicated this season to Matt. A cancerous “thorn” in the flesh is tough. Not just for the one going through it…but the family as well…No one wants to feel like they’re all alone in the battle.

Last Sunday a friend of mine who ministers in Harlan County, KY buried his 43 year old wife after she lost this battle…she was a mother of 4…Jeff made this journey an open book for the world to see…He still is…

He wrote…at around 9:30 this morning, my wife Karen went to be with Jesus. She has passed from the pain and struggles of this life into the unfathomable glories and joys of heaven. Although are hearts are broken, we have peace. And a hope, to be reunited with her one day.

1Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)

Brothers, we do not want to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. [14] We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that god will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. [15]According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17]After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. [18] Therefore encourage each other with these words.

The very first response…from one of his best friends…”My heart aches for you, as you know I’ve gone through the same thing your experiencing…I’m here to talk, to listen, or just love you.”

Remember when Paul writes 3 times I pleaded with the Lord to take away this thorn, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12: 8) And I asked you, “How much grace is enough?” I promise you Jeff need’s a ton of grace for his pain…more than I can imagine.

I don’t know how much grace Paul needed for his pain, his thorn, but it seems like a lot.

So…

I WHAT DO I DO WHEN THE ANSWER IS NO?

I use to pray for God to take away my scars…it wasn’t easy going through middle school looking like a patched quilt. Why did God allow me to be burned..? Why didn’t He powerfully remove the scars? It’s really what I pleaded with Him to do…

How do you think Jeff Noah prayed for his wife Karen? The mother of his 4 children…He’s human too…How many times did He ask God, plead with god, in faith…”Make her well….take me if you have to.”

The Apostle Paul pleaded with god 3 times to remove the thorn that twisted in his flesh…and God said, “No! over a 14 year period of time…Paul begged and God said, “No”

I wonder if anyone ever told the apostle or thought to themselves…if he had more faith God would take it away.”

Self righteous fools treat the “No’s” of God like this…It took 14 years for Paul to understand that God’s grace is sufficient…That God’s power is made perfect in our struggling “weakness” That God is the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles.”

It takes discomfort to discover comfort…Paul knew that discomfort…Listen…

2 Cor 1: 8-9 (p817)

Some use the “No” as an excuse to be angry at God…to hate him…some look at hardships as punishment...both for themselves and for others…it makes them feel superior…or mistreated by the world.

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