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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

2 Corinthians 12:9 (from https://scripturetype.com/2-corinthians-129)

"God's Grace Is Sufficient!"

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.

Many of us are reading about the utterly horrendous news of barbaric war crimes in Ukraine. These stories are similar to some of the most savagely cruel accounts of Old Testament battles. We see photos and read stories of the vast atrocities but today let us painfully consider the plight of individuals going through this currently. These people are going through circumstances similar to what is described in the Great Tribulation.

We are burdened for all who suffer regardless of their faith (or lack thereof), but we especially consider those who share our faith in Christ. From our understanding in Ukraine there are many who follow Christ. This area has been described as the "Bible Belt" of eastern Europe.

Our prayer for them is that in some miraculous way they will experience the sufficiency of God's grace, the assurance of His love and an abounding hope, even in the midst of their unimaginable suffering.

We gain much from considering the wonders of God’s sufficient grace evidenced in the time of greatest need: from those in the Bible and those throughout history. It's helpful to remember that whatever we are going through has already been experienced by others.

Sufficient grace The story of the Christian martyr Thomas Hauker (England, 1555) illustrates the sufficiency of the grace of God in our hour of need. Thomas Hauker was a bright, well-favored, and handsome young gentleman who refused to deny or renounce his personal relationship with Christ. For this he was sentenced to be burned at the stake.

“Thomas”, his friend lowered his voice so as not to be heard by the guard. “I have to ask you a favor. I need to know if what the others say about the grace of God is true. Tomorrow, when they burn you at the stake, if the pain is tolerable and your mind is still at peace, lift your hands above your head. Do it right before you die. Thomas I have to know.” Thomas Hauker whispered to his friend, “I will.”

On the day of execution, the crowd was abuzz with Thomas’s promise. As he was chained to the stake, he spoke quietly and with great grace to the men who laid the wood. Then he closed his eyes and the fire was kindled. Thomas continued to preach to those around him, but soon, for the roar of the flames, he could not. The fire burned a long time, but Hauker remained motionless. His skin was burnt to a crisp and his fingers were gone. Everyone watching supposed he was dead.

Suddenly, miraculously, Hauker lifted his hands, still on fire, over his head. He reached them up to the living God and then, with great rejoicing, clapped them together three times. The people there broke into shouts of praise and applause. Hauker’s friend had his answer. Does the story of this godly martyr not convict us? How often we whine “I can’t take it anymore.” How often we catch ourselves expressing frustration over the smallest trial. How often we overstate our problems and underestimate God’s promise to enable us to bear up under the trial or weakness. When you think you can’t take much more, remember Thomas Hauker’s example of God’s sufficient grace.

Bible openedThe apostle Paul, who was eventually martyred, 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 does not disclose the details, although it's likely his original readers would have already known, due to their personal association with him.

Bible teacher 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 scores of believers through the church age. 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 always sufficient for each of them!

We consider the horrible plight of those suffering in Ukraine and in so many other places all around the world. May they truly experience God's sufficient grace. Are you dealing with 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.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is in our weaknesses that Your power becomes more visible in our lives. The "thorn in our flesh" is representative of those trials common to all 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 pray. Amen.

Note: Ukraine is in the news and rightly so but wars in varying degrees are taking place all over the world, many which scarcely make any news. But for those suffering the results are the same. Countries Currently At War 2022

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Grace Alone"  Video  Virtual Choir of Berean Bible Baptist Church Torres in Davao City,  Philippines.

"His Grace Is Sufficient"  Video  Shane and Shane

Precept commentary notes on 2 Corinthians 12:9  (The story of Thomas Hauker in today's message comes from this study site.)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

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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