A thorn in the flesh

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Paul had some amazing visions and revelations about Heaven and Paradise. In the verses preceding these he explains that he isn’t sure if he went out of body or in. Either way he had heard inexpressible words that could not be uttered by man. He goes on to say he could boast about them but will not so that he won’t be viewed above what he actually is.

In the key verses, he explains about a thorn in his flesh. I am going to assume that it was an actual pain in his bodily flesh that he couldn’t rid himself of and that God would not take. Some may interpret that word flesh to refer to a sin or temptation that he had. The word flesh from The Key Word Study Bible KJV means bodily flesh of a living creature. So something was poking him into some severe discomfort.

I love that God kept him humble. He keeps me that way and it’s a process I assure you. When He prompts me to do something and it goes well, I am tempted to turn my joy for the Lord into pride. I get so excited that I did something right and well that if I’m not careful, it turns into a yay Kim party instead of a yay God party. I quickly remember that I can do nothing without Him. He gets all glory and honor because He alone is worthy.

I have a nerve in my lower back that is obviously faulty. I live in an intermediate state of pain. Especially when I run. You don’t get used to the pain but after some time it’s like that nagging annoying friend or co-worker that is always there trying to bring you down. But that pain keeps me humble. If I could attain all of the goals I have for myself that old ugly pride monster could pop onto the scene. And we will have none of that.

I, like Paul, have asked over and again for God to take it. Yes I can go to the doctor and have back surgery, no thanks. I may have to at some point but not now. I had enough of surgery last year so I will just deal. Through a devotion I recently read He let me know that I needed Him more than my personal goals and that this body would continue to fail me in this world.

His grace is sufficient for anything you are going through. Anything. What does that mean exactly? I take it to mean that the unmerited favor of God that has been and will always continue to pour out on your life is all you will ever need. He does not treat us according to our sins but in loving kindness is gracious to us. Amazing. The God of the universe is bestoying grace and mercy on me. Why? Because He loves me that much. The same is 100% true for you too.

What if your pain comes from within? What if your heart has been ripped out of your chest and torn to pieces? What if the worst nightmare you have had comes to life? He made you. He knows you. He knows your pain and suffering. He will walk through it with you. He will sustain you. He will carry you. And then there’s that beautiful grace that we experience with Him and His strength is complete in our weakness. It is sufficient friend.

Pain is never wanted or welcomed initially. But when we realize that He has purpose in it and that our faith will increase with it we become a powerful weapon against the enemy and his devices. He wants us to crumble under the pressure. But we won’t! We will allow God to work in us and through us to get to the other side of the mountain. You won’t be stuck on the side here forever. You will go up and over before you know it! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

I can testify that God will bring you through. If you have to live with your pain in the flesh, His love, mercy and grace will be enough. Press on in your pain. Remember that His strength is complete in your weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong!

 

 

When God calls your name

“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:2-4

These verses were part of our Sunday School lesson this week and I wanted to share them with you. I am a visual person so I thought to myself what would I do if I pulled into the driveway and one of my shrubs was on fire but I could still see all of the leaves and flowers on it? Would I run past it and grab the hose or call the fire department? Or would I draw near to see why it was not being consumed. What would you do?

To the credit of Moses he turned off of his path of tending sheep and drew near to see what was happening. It was only then that the Lord called to Moses. When he turned aside. When he stopped what he was doing to pay attention. When he was intent on finding an answer.

I wonder why God used a burning bush? Why didn’t He just call out to Moses? Do you think it took a burning bush to get his attention? God will capture your attention by whatever means that it takes. He may not use a burning bush but perhaps an illness for you or a loved one. Maybe a job loss. A wayward child. Financial devastation. Hurricanes. When God has a message for you, He will get it to you. The answer here is to be listening all of the time.

I love that when God called to Moses he said, “Here I am.” I wonder how many times God has said, “Kim, Kim!” and I pushed right on past.  No stopping or veering off of my path. So busy and wrapped up in life that I didn’t hear my Lord when He called. I want to be like Moses and every single time he calls my name that I say, “Here I am.” I am not saying I have never heard from or listened to God only pondering the missed opportunities that turned into burning bushes in my life.

I remember when I was growing up that I had to be able to hear my Mom when she called me for dinner. She would call my name and I would yell, “I am coming.” She was less than happy when I was out of voice range. I may not get to play the next afternoon or two. I just wonder if God is that way toward us. He calls and we are out of range. Then we have the consequences of disobedience to deal with.

Why not stop what you are doing right now and ask God if He has been calling for you? Turn aside and look for Him. Join Him in what He is already doing. I think sometimes we think that when He calls that we have to go to Africa. Some will. Often times though it’s happening right where you are today. If you will look around, you will see where He is at work and you can join Him there.

Or maybe it’s a huge task that He is calling you to. When He called to Moses He was going to instruct him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. No small task. But everything that had happened in his life to that point had prepared him for the task at hand. It’s the same for you friend. Every single occurrence you have encountered has prepared you. He won’t ever ask you to go it alone. He just needs a willing vessel.

Joining God in a grand adventure is full of blessings. I am not saying it’s easy but it is worth it and the fellowship with God is priceless. Turn aside. Seek Him. Ask Him. Follow Him. God always blesses obedience. Have a super week, praying for you!