A Thorn in Your Side? (Part 1)
May 5, 2022
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May 19, 2022
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Bring on the Thorns (Part 2)

A hand covered in thorns holds a single red rose

For the video teaching on this, please link to our 721 Ministries Videos on Vimeo.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Last week we asked the question: How do you progress from whining and complaining to God about the things and people you don’t like in your life, to seeing through a lens of God’s perfect power, his perfect love, and his perfect plan for you? 

We begin with the understanding that God’s perfect plan is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. (Romans 8:29) That is very good news, but this conforming process clearly must involve thorns. Why? Paul gives us two reasons:  

 “… in order to keep me from becoming conceited.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) 

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 Bold added)

Maybe you are not at all like Paul. Perhaps you have no issues with conceit. But I do not have to know you personally to know you tend to rely on Self, instead of relying on Jesus. How do I know this? You are human, and you are American.

I now understand what the Holy Spirit is saying through Paul, when Paul arrives at this poignant conclusion: 

9 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In essence, “For when I am weakened by a thorn, I must lean on and rely on Jesus, and his presence and his perfect love. Then I become strong in his power, not mine.”

Weaknesses, insults … frustrating friends, imperfect spouses, family matters, work, financial, physical and emotional issues – that about covers the thorns list, doesn’t it?

God the Father, who loves you perfectly, said to Paul and he says to you: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in … your … weakness.” (your added)

I had operated in my power for years. For years this was all I knew. Everything I had ever learned taught me this was the way, the only way, to operate. What was the alternative? My driving mantra was, “If I don’t, it won’t. If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”

That mantra drove me into many a thorn bush. I even carried this approach into 721 Ministries. We started 721 in 2004, and by 2007 I was burning out. Yet back then our schedule was a fraction of what it is today. I was leaning on Sam, and Sam’s Self-power, and it was burying me. 

But now, because my gracious Father has allowed quite a few thorns to stick in my side, I have learned the alternative: to shove aside Self and live more and more with Jesus’ power. Yes, I have learned the secret of living with Holy Spirit power: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

May you learn that in your Self weakness, you can be strong in His strength. 

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