2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Last week we talked about Joy in trials – How much of finding joy in the trials begins with surrendering? Remember the purpose of trials is for spiritual maturity.
This week we are talking about having joy in weakness. How much of having joy in weakness begins with surrendering?
Every. Single. Bit. the two completely go hand in hand.
Unless we surrender God cannot remove from our self what needs to be done away with.
Colossians 3:3 says our life should be so hidden in Christ we aren’t what’s seen but Christ in us is to be seen.
John 14:27 tells us that the peace from God should cover us completely – so much so that we are not seen but the peace of God is seen.
Luke 22:31 – 32 Satan demands permission to sift us.
The greek word for demand actually refers to the word request –
Satan requests to sift us. Who does he make that request to? God the Father because Satan can not do anything to us without God’s permission.
The word sift has several definitions but the generalized them to sifting is to examine (something) thoroughly as to isolate that which is most important or useful. It is a physically labor intensive and repetitive job to sift wheat.
When God allows Satan to sift us, He is granting Satan permission to remove the unwanted – the bad habits – the potty mouth – our parent’s training – our self will – the world – anything that is not of God – from us in order for us to become the women God desires for us to be.
Francis Chan’s definion of Sift: accelerated spiritual growth in times of trouble that increases trust in God that allows us to surrender to His almighty sovereignty for the purpose of being refined for fruitfulness and multiplication.
God allows Satan to test people for a greater purpose. Sometimes that purpose is never known to us. And sometimes that purpose has absolutely nothing to do with us.
Regardless of God’s plan – we must ask ourselves these questions –
Do I trust the Lord with my life? Regardless what He allows satan to throw at me . . .
Am I going to surrender to Him?
The two go hand in hand.
Example: God allowed Satan to test severely test Job. Job 1 and 2
God allowed Satan to sift Peter. Luke 22:31-34
God allowed Satan to afflict the Apostle Paul. 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9
All three of the verbs mentioned – test, sift, afflict meant he same thing – to cause great pain.
Job: Scripture says in Job 1:1 and 1:8 that Job did not sin. Job’s trials were a test to prove his faithfulness. Even through great loss and physical pain Job remained faithful to God.
Peter: Peter’s trial was a test of his faithfulness – which he failed (Luke 22:54-62). Satan asks permission to sift Peter and Peter denied Jesus three times – Luke 22: 31 – 32, Luke 22:54 – 62. It wasn’t until Peter denied Jesus as prophesied that we truly see Peter’s passion and zeal for sharing the gospel but Peter had to experience pain because he was prideful. Can you imagine the gut wrenching pain Peter felt when he looked in to the eyes of Jesus after that rooster crowed? My heart aches over that because I know the sin in my own heart that has ripped me to the core. After Peter denies Jesus he runs off and mourns in great pain. BUT something changed – he had a turning point – a surrender of self – Peter experienced forgiveness. Even though it caused Peter great excruciating pain, it was that pain of rejecting His Savior that pushed him onward to preach the gospel.
Paul: Paul went from paradise to pain, from glory to suffering. He tasted heaven and then felt the buffeting (to be striked repeatedly over and over) of satan on earth. The tense of the verb tells us the pain was either continuous or recurring.
Paul couldn’t have heaven without the buffeting.
Paul’s trials were to keep him from being prideful.
Paul did not look for honor from man but let God honor him.
Three experiences Paul shares with his readers:
God Honored Paul – Glory 2 Corinthians 12:1-6
God Humbled Paul – Goodness 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
God helped Paul – Grace, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The thorn in Paul’s flesh was Satan’s message to Paul BUT GOD – God’s message was grace.
The past tense of the verb in 2 Corinthians 12:9 is important, “And He said unto me”. God gave Paul a message that stayed with him. He remembered. Paul couldn’t share what he heard in heaven but he was able to share the word God gave him on earth – a message of grace – a sufficient grace and a strengthened grace.
Sufficient Grace – there is never a shortage of grace. He is sufficient in our spiritual ministries (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) and our physical needs (2 Corinthians 12:9). IF God’s grace is sufficient to save us, THEN it is sufficient to keep us and strengthen us in our times of suffering.
Strengthening Grace – God allows us to become week so that we can receive God’s strength and for God to get the glory (2 Corinthians 12:9).
*Strength that knows itself to be strength is actually weakness,
BUT weakness that knows itself to be weakness – is actually strength.*
P.T. Forsyth said, “It is a greater thing to pray for pain’s conversion than for its removal.”
TRANSFORMATION VS SUBSTITUTION
As believers, many of our blessings come through transformations and not substitutions. When Paul prayed three times for the removal of his pain, he was asking God for a substitution, deliverance instead of pain and weakness. Sometimes God does meet the need by substitution but other times He meets the need by the transformation of the heart.
*Not my will Lord, but yours. If you won’t remove this from me then use it for your glory.*
He doesn’t always remove the affliction but He does give us grace so the afflictions work for us and not against us AND for His glory.
Paul learned that the thorn in his flesh was an actual gift from God.
Paul had to do three things:
- Surrender his will
- Accept the gift (the thorn)
- Allow God to accomplish His purpose
How do we counter trials and suffering?
Spend extra time in the WORD! – remember last week – play defensive as well as offensive! As believers in Christ we should be spending time with him DAILY!
Not only are we to be in the Word daily we are to REMEMBER! Paul’s one experience of glory prepared him for the constant suffering because he knew God would satisfy all his needs. HE REMEMBERED – He remembered the heavenly realm, He remembered the visions – He remembered the God ordained moments – His faith was immense in God – HE TRUSTED GOD WITH HIS LIFE BECAUSE HE KNEW GOD WAS USING HIM FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!
God always has a special message for His children when we are going through trials.
God did not give Paul explanations. Instead He gave Him a promise, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Feelings change – God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith. Faith strengthens hope.
These are just some of my notes, there was soooo much it became too much.
Next Monday I will post Joy in the Word.
Have a great week and Happy New Year!