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Thread: Thorns in the flesh

  1. #1

    Thorns in the flesh

    Hi brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, I would just like to share some thoughts on trials and tribulations in the life of believers...

    2 Corinthians 12:7-10


    And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of 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. For 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 I am strong.

    Before we begin looking at the passage above, we need to turn back to 2 Kings 6:11-23. It is here that we find Elisha in the city of Dothan with his servant. The king of Syria has sent horses, chariots, and a great army to capture Elisha, and that great multitude has surrounded the city during the nighttime. In the morning, Elisha's servant rises and see's the Syrian army and immediately tells Elisha. Let's look what happens next in verses 16 - 18
    And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of the Lord.
    Here then is one of the instances in God's Word where we get a glimpse into the interaction of the things that are seen with the things that are unseen, the physical with the spiritual. What was seen was a large army against two men, what was unseen, but just as real, were the hosts of heaven covering the mountain. In the same way that the eyes of Elisha's servant were opened by the Lord to see the spiritual reality of the situation they were in, so the Holy Spirit, through the pen of the apostle Paul, opens our eyes in the introductory scripture above, to see an unseen spiritual reality that Paul was in and that has great implications for us as well.


    As we well know, the apostle Paul received revelations from the risen, ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord through Paul made known the gospel of His grace and the preaching of the mystery. When we look at verse 7 in the introductory scripture above, we immediately see that because of the abundance of these revelations, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Twice in this same verse, we learn that it was so he would not be exalted above measure. Many have surmised what exactly this "thorn" was, but since the scripture is not explicit on what this is, we shall not hazard guesses either. We do see however, that this thorn was a messenger of Satan, a fallen angel, to buffet Paul. So we see that God allowed Satan to send a messenger to buffet Paul.


    Immediately we see a similarity with what happened to Job, so we must confirm this to see if this a truth that spans across the ages and dispensations. When we examine God's record of Job's life, we see Satan approaching the throne of God and accusing Job, saying that the only reason Job feared God was because God had placed a hedge about Job and we see God allowing Satan to buffet Job. Job 1:9-12
    Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord
    .
    As we know, Job did not curse the Lord, but through the trial, learned among other things, the power of God and the weakness of the flesh. If this scenario is a truth that spans across the ages, we must find evidence in other ages. As we know Job lived before the Law was given. Let us now look at a similar instance, after the law was given, during Christ's earthly ministry.

    We read in Luke 22:31-34
    And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that they faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

    When our Lord prayed for Peter, it was not that Satan would not sift Peter as wheat, but that Peter's faith would not fail. And then the Lord says something interesting, "and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren". Peter, like Job had to learn about the weakness of the flesh, we read later on that 3 times Peter denied the Lord, and we see the bitter tears that followed, but praise the Lord, we also later on in Acts, see Peter not relying on the flesh, but in fact strengthening his brethren in the power of the Holy Spirit.


    So we see a pattern across the ages of Satan accusing the children of God, and while God is in control, he sometimes allows God's children to experience these things to grow them and gain a more perfect knowledge of His power and working, and a more sobering realization of the weakness of the flesh. We see come to another age in Revelations and see when Satan will not be allowed to do this anymore. Revelations 12:9-10
    And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which decieveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.



    Returning to the apostle Paul's situation in the scripture at the beginning of this email, we see that Paul begged the Lord 3 times that this thorn in flesh would be taken away. And the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul breaks out in praise to the Lord, "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 I am strong."


    All praise be to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit just gave us a glimpse into the unseen and how he uses our failures, trials,and tribulations to strengthen us in Him. What is the application then that we can make to our lives from these scriptures, as members of the body of Christ, living in this age of God's amazing Grace? Every time we are faced with a trial, should we be suspecting that this is a direct attack from the adversary? We shouldn't fixate on how or why the troubles of this life come our way, but we praise the Lord, that when they come, we know that God is in control, He allows things to happen for our growth in Him, and we take comfort that His Grace is sufficient for us through all these things. As our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified in weakness, He was raised in power, so also our flesh has been crucified with Him, and in His power we have been raised in Him, to walk in newness of life. As in the fiery furnace, the Lord was with Shadrach, Meshach,and Abednego, and not a hair on them was singed by the flames, so too, the Lord is with us in this life in the inward man, and it is there in Him the flames of this life can't touch us. If trials and tribulations come, if friends and loved ones abandon us, if all, physically speaking, seems lost. May we look to the author and finisher of our Faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, and know that He is with us, just as He was with our beloved apostle Paul when all those in Asia abandoned him. May we hear the Holy Spirit's Words through the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16 - 18
    At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me: that by me the preaching might be fully known and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen


    Grace and Peace,
    DW from www.timetoawake.wordpress.com

  2. #2
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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Welcome to the forums

    This is wonderful!! I enjoyed it immensely! Thank you for sharing!

    blessings to you
    My soul does GLORIFY the LORD, my spirit REJOICES in GOD MY SAVIOUR
    ------
    "To be entirely safe from the devils snares the man of God must be completely obedient to the Word of the Lord. The driver on the highway is safe, not when he reads the signs but when he obeys them." A.W.Tozer

    The Lifehouse Skit

  3. #3

    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Thank you so much. I am going through some pain right now, but through it Christ has revealed just how much power He has. I was never as humbled as I was before about two nights ago, God has shown His grace and His power through this.
    Why are you searching for love? Why are you still looking as if I'm not enough?

  4. #4
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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Great first post! Glad you've joined us. Maybe you could slip up to the Intro forum and tell us a bit about yourself?

    blessings,

    Watchman
    Sunset remembers Eden...sunrise prophesies its return.

  5. #5

    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Praise the Lord! Thank you all for making me feel welcome here. Watchman, Lord williing, I will post a little about myself in the intro forum tonight. I have three children under 8, so I'm pretty busy right now. Again thank you all for making me feel welcome, it means a lot.

    In our Lord Jesus Christ,
    DW

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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Quote Originally Posted by DWVanKampen View Post
    and while God is in control, he sometimes allows God's children to experience these things to grow them and gain a more perfect knowledge of His power and working, and a more sobering realization of the weakness of the flesh. .[/I][/B]


    And the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul breaks out in praise to the Lord, "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 I am strong."

    Nice post, and these things are the things that I personally find have always spoken to me. Paul takes pleasure in these things because God is glorified in them, both in his own heart and in the eyes of those who see these things done in and through Paul. What a glorious and gracious God we serve to give us those opportunities to glorify Him ANNNND to gain a fuller understanding and greater love of our God. WE don't just suffer needlessly, and we don't just suffer so others will glorify Him, but ALSO so we may glorify Him more in our hearts. What a great blessing!
    Don't seek too much knowledge. You just may be putting more weight on your shoulders than you're able to bare. Let God be the one to decide how quickly you grow.

  7. #7
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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Quote Originally Posted by DWVanKampen View Post
    Praise the Lord! Thank you all for making me feel welcome here. Watchman, Lord williing, I will post a little about myself in the intro forum tonight. I have three children under 8, so I'm pretty busy right now.
    Holy guacamole, Batman! You aren't busy...you are the definition of busy! At one point, I had 3 children under 6, so I understand. Now, though, mine are 31, 26, 26......and 9!

    ybiC,

    Watchman
    Sunset remembers Eden...sunrise prophesies its return.

  8. #8

    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Romans 5:3-5
    And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.


    Colossians 3:15-16
    And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.


    On this earth we will experience trials and tribulations, while going through these may be painful, God uses these for our growth and His own purpose, which many times we just can't see at the time. In the first set of verses above, we see the process that happens when we go through the trials and the end result being the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. In the second set of verses we see the result, when the peace of God rules in our hearts. Which is our hearts singing with grace to the Lord for all he has done for us.

    I believe the Holy Spirit has given us a perfect example of these instructions, being applied to a believer's life in Acts 16, where we read about Paul and Silas and what they experienced in the city of Philippi. As we read in verses 22-24, we see a multitude of men who beat and laid many stripes on Paul and Silas and then have them thrown into the inner prison, being bound with leg irons. Here we have Paul and Silas, beaten, bloodied, and bound in a dungeon, what a miserable situation, what a grim outlook. Yet we find that through this tribulation their faith was strengthened and the Holy Spirit was working in their hearts, for we read in verse 25: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Despite all that had happened to them, here they are singing of their "redeemer and His precious love for them, knowing that on the cruel cross He suffered, paid the price, and set them free" as the old hymn so beautifully puts it. This is the work of God and not man, this is the work of faith and not man's reasoning, this is the result of the peace of God ruling the heart, and not the circumstances.

    At that very moment, Paul and Silas, could not see what this tribulation they were experiencing was for, but they were walking by faith and not by sight. For as we read the remaining verses we learn that an earthquake shook the building, the prison doors and bands on the prisoners were loosed, and in comes the jailer, fearing that all the prisoners had escaped, about ready to kill himself for fear of what the Roman government would do to him, when Paul calls out to him. Then we read the precious words in Acts 16: 29-31: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    Praise the Lord! Here we see the reason for all the tribulation, a soul was saved, and not only the Philippian Jailer, but his family as well, as we learn later in the chapter. Though scripture is silent on the subject, one wonders if perhaps some of the prisoners witnessing all this became believers in Lord as well. As we may be going through some trials or tribulations in our lives, they probably seem small compared to Paul and Silas' tribulation, but we can know for certain, whether small or large, that God is in control, and take heart in the wonderful truth found in Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    So when they come our way, may we pray for the Lord to strengthen us so we might glory in our tribulations. May we walk by faith and not by sight, and may the Lord help us focus on the hope of our glory, our Lord Jesus Christ, hearing the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    Grace and Peace,
    DW

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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Praise God for His abundant mercy and peace! During a time of great trial and tribulation a few years ago, the Lord gave me Acts 16:25. I was in constant pain physically and everything that could go wrong in my life was happening. It was a dark, scary time, but my brother, when I did just as Paul and Silas did, my chains fell off!! When I praised Him in that storm, when I worshipped through the pain, everything changed! I went from feeling physically and mentally tortured by pain,grief,stress and worry, to resting in His glorious presence! I stopped pleading desperately for the Lord to change my situation, and started rejoicing that He could help me rise above it! I remembered that the Lord uses everything for my good! I remembered that He was holding me, and He would do great and mighty things through my situation!! It changed my walk with Him forever!!

    I have walked through much tribulation, in fact I could rant about it, but I'd rather rant about the God who did just as He promised! I rather declare to anyone reading this, that He is able to raise you higher than that situation your in!! There is power in that so called bad situation. A broken heart offered up in praise to God, is something our glorious Lord will not resist! Worship Him with tears running down your face if you have to, reject what you see in the flesh, and focus on what you see in the Spirit!! He really will only allow what is good for us, for in the hard times, He is bringing us closer, and revealing Himself!

    All honor, glory and praise to our merciful Father and glorious Lord Jesus!!

    blessings to you
    My soul does GLORIFY the LORD, my spirit REJOICES in GOD MY SAVIOUR
    ------
    "To be entirely safe from the devils snares the man of God must be completely obedient to the Word of the Lord. The driver on the highway is safe, not when he reads the signs but when he obeys them." A.W.Tozer

    The Lifehouse Skit

  10. #10

    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    2 Corinthians 1:8:9
    For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead.


    Another way God uses the trials and tribulations in the life of a believer is so we can effectively affirm the weakness and death of the flesh and the power and life of the Spirit of God. As we examine the verses above we note the physical perils that the apostle Paul was in, but we specifically notice the spiritual conflict that he was experiencing.

    When we read that he and his fellow laborers were "pressed out of measure", we immediately think of Paul's words later in this epistle where he recounts the "measure of the rule of God" which he was given. This "measure of the rule of God" was the specific scope or amount of people that Paul would effectively minister the Word of God to. This measure has still not ended as more people each day in this age of grace are coming to know the gospel of the grace of God, which our Lord committed to Paul, to give to us. This being said, when we contrast this with his statement of being "pressed out of measure" we can translate this to mean his message, at this time in Asia, was falling on deaf ears that would not hear of God and His grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. This brief season of ministry that was not bearing visible fruit, was also pressing Paul "above strength" or weakening him so that he "despaired even of life". With the physical tribulations Paul and his fellow laborers were experiencing, plus the perceived lack of success in the ministration of the Word of God, they were in a very scary place, spiritually speaking.


    It is at this point in verse 9 that we read "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves". A "sentence" is a judicial decree, and the verdict was death. Here now we are viewing the process of sanctification in the life of a believer, the continual reckoning of ourselves as dead pertaining to the flesh, but alive to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We read all of verse 9, "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead". Here we see the reason for the tribulation that Paul and his fellow laborers endured. It was to recalibrate, so to speak, to reaffirm the worthlessness of the flesh and the power of the Spirit of God, to ensure the focus is on God, who raises the dead, and not on self or circumstances, to ensure that the focus is not on just the doctrine or instruction in itself, but on the Lord Jesus Christ who gave the doctrine and who works the Word inside us.


    When we we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, we were saved and delivered from death for eternity. During this life, God uses tribulations and trials by which we are saved through our Lord Jesus Christ experiencially. This process of sanctification involves continual death to ourselves and trusting in God which raises the dead. Seeing these things we can more fully understand how the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians, makes the statement, "I die daily". When we read the verse that follows the introductory verses above, we see that we are saved or delivered three ways. 2nd Corinthians 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us 1. We were eternally saved by our Lord Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection, when we believed in Him. 2. We are continually saved as He sanctifies us during this life. 3. He will yet save or deliver us when we He catches us up to be with Him in the air and we recieve our new, glorified bodies. Then death will be swallowed up in victory!

    So as we conduct our various ministry's the Lord gave us (and every one of us has a ministry of some sort and to someone). We will encounter tribulations both physical and spiritual. At times it will seem as if our ministry does not exist and is totally unfruitful by our perception. We may "hit the wall" so to speak, and question whether we ever had the ministry we thought we had, we may have fears inside, we may question whether we have been ministering by the Lord's working or whether our flesh has tricked us and been faking things. On top of all these things maybe physically speaking there are tribulations as well. At this point we must quit, not quit our ministry, but quit ourselves and trust in our God, who raises the dead. We must also ask our brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ to pray for us, as we read in closing, in verse 11.
    Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

    Grace and Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ,
    DW

  11. #11
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    Re: Thorns in the flesh

    Excellent 1st post in the thread! I will read the others following on.
    Jesus Christ....who do you say He is?


    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

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