The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
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Monday, March 27, 2017
Message summary: Do you have a "thorn in the flesh" or are you close to someone right now who feels the piercing pain of a "thorn". First aid such as the ointment of God's grace can be applied which is absolutely sufficient to sustain you through the trial at hand. Not only did Paul keep his faith, but He thrived in His pursuit of God and we are the benefactors because of it. As you endure the trial and pursue God you too will be stronger and God will be glorified through your endurance.
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"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Grace alone which God supplies
Strength unknown He will provide
Christ in us, our cornerstone
We will go forth in grace alone.
Last night a veteran missionary couple spoke in our church. Doug and Barb Miller, missionaries to Africa, have a steady testimony of the tremendous power of God's sufficient grace in overcoming adversity while encouraging the saints and reaching the lost for Christ. In 2000, this middle aged couple, accepted the call to serve as missionaries in Africa, along with their five young children.
On September 15, 2001, four days after the 9/11 terrorist attack in America, Barb had a bicycle accident, falling off an unstable wooden bridge into an 18 foot ravine. She broke her back resulting in her being a paraplegic. She received all of her medical care on the mission field.
We first heard the Millers speak two years after the accident. It was a wonderfully wholesome sight to see the five Miller children, from the oldest to the youngest, seated on the platform. As a family they shared of God's help in overcoming a trial they never would have imagined as they eagerly headed to the mission field less than two years earlier. Together they recited from memory a lengthy Scripture portion from Romans 8 assuring us that we can never be separated from God's love, no matter our circumstances.
The Millers have had a lot of overcoming, but testified to the sufficiency of God's sustaining grace. They continue in missions service over 15 years after her accident. Their children are grown and all but one are married. They also have two grandchildren.
The accident changed the course of their lives, but not the focus of their ministry. Barb's "thorn in the flesh" added a perspective to their ministry of God's sustaining grace and divine provision, just as Paul wrote about regarding his thorn in the flesh that God chose not to remove but used it for His glory and for Paul's spiritual growth.
Our lives are enriched as we observe and learn from those who endure and overcome a life-transforming trial. Joni Erickson's ministry has inspired and touched so many who would never have heard of her before her diving accident in 1967, leaving her a quadriplegic. We so appreciate our friend, David Penley, who served for many years as a seminary professor at SWBTS. After a serious health crisis which necessitated a major career change along with other significant adjustments, he and his wife, Sabra, share together in a prolific writing ministry. You surely know of others who have had similar trials, but by God's grace they rejected bitterness and opted for being used in a way they might never have imagined nor desired, but for the grace of God.
The apostle Paul received tremendous assurance from the daily text after a time of prayer that seemed to go unanswered. He was dealing with his "thorn in the flesh." Much speculation has been made regarding the nature of this thorn, with a variety of interpretations offered. However Paul simply chose not to disclose the details, although it's likely his original readers would have already known, due to their personal association with him.
Many commentators believe Paul was referring to a recurring physical affliction, perhaps an eye problem. George Swinnock wrote, "Sanctified sickness is far better than unsanctified soundness." Warren Wiersbe observes, "God did not give Paul any explanations; instead, He gave him a promise: 'My grace is sufficient for thee.' We do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith strengthens hope. Paul claimed God’s promise and drew on the grace that was offered to him; this turned seeming tragedy into triumph. God did not change the situation by removing the affliction; He changed it by adding a new ingredient: grace."
Robert Morgan writes, "If you have a red letter Bible, just thumb through the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, looking for any words that show up in red letters. Those are statements from the lips of Christ Himself, and when you read them you can just imagine Jesus appearing and speaking personally to Paul; and furthermore, think of Jesus speaking personally to you. Those who heard Him when He labored on earth said that no one ever spoke like He did, for He taught with authority and not as the Pharisees or the scribes. That's the way He speaks to you and me, and so this is a personal message from Jesus, in red letters to your heart, and He says, "My grace is sufficient for you."
This verse of assurance has brought comfort to countless believers through the church age. I recall the day before my father had open-heart surgery in 1997 that he had read this passage and it spoke personally to him regarding his "thorn". We generally interpret the thorn to be representative of a trial. I consider the lack of specific identity by Paul regarding the nature of his thorn to be a part of God's design, for our trials truly take on many forms and God's grace is sufficient for each of them!
Do you have a "thorn in the flesh" or are you close to someone right now who feels the piercing pain of a "thorn". First aid such as the ointment of God's grace can be applied which is absolutely sufficient to sustain you through the trial at hand. Not only did Paul keep his faith, but He thrived in His pursuit of God and we, along with millions over the centuries, are the benefactors because of it. As you endure the trial and pursue God you too will be stronger and God will be glorified through your faithful endurance.
When the questions of life go unanswered,
When there's none that respond to your plea,
There's an echo that keeps on resounding,
"My grace is sufficient for thee".
Let us offer our praises to Jesus
Till in heaven His presence we see.
Never failing to trust in the promise,
"My grace is sufficient for thee".
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is in our weaknesses that Your power is made most visible in our lives. The "thorn in our flesh" is representative of those trials common to followers of Christ. We call out for deliverance and yet endure the discomfort and affliction as a true soldier of the faith, all the while being *"joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer." Because of the blood of Christ we can overcome the opposition and triumph in our faith to the glory of God the Father in whose name we praise. Amen.
*See Romans 12:12 (NIV 1984)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Grace" Video Laura Story
"Grace Alone" Video Maranatha Praise Band
"His Grace Is Sufficient" Video Shane and Shane
"His Grace Is Sufficient" Video The Sensational Nightingales
"My Grace Is Sufficient" Video Bruce & Sammy Frye
"My Grace Is Sufficient For You " Video
"My Grace is Sufficient For Thee" Video
David and Sabra Penley write at Simply One
Ee-Taow: The Mouk Story // Official Video by New Tribes Mission
"Finding Peace In Life-Altering Accident" Doug & Barb Miller testimony videos Part 1 of 2 Part 2 of 2
Here's a powerful testimony of overcoming. Video
Precept commentary notes on 2 Corinthians 12:9 (Quotes in today's message comes from this study site.)
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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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