The thorn of Paul
1 Corinthians 2:4 -
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
Theologians since ages have not able to nail down as to what was the 'thorn' Paul referred too which caused him great suffering and took him to a point of death. Some state it to be an ailment for which he had Luke (a doctor by profession) to accompany him. Others have their own theories. When I inquired about this with the Lord I was in for a big surprise. Had I not had be taught about Callings, I would have never accepted what the Lord revealed.
To understand this matter we need to have a bird's eye view of Paul's spiritual life through his letter putting them in the order he wrote or authored it.
Paul is admired for his great knowledge, his dedication to the Lord's work and his humbleness. Some of the other strong points of him are also for being a man of no nonsense, being fearless and a person of great self-respect. All this was in him yet he was not perfect and the Lord exposes one of his greatest weaknesses through his letters. The Lord did this not to put down Paul but to show Paul was Paul only because the Spirit of God worked in him and through him. Without the Holy Spirit Paul could have been the greatest villains of the NT. The most important letters that brings out the thorn of Paul is his letters to the Church in Corinth. We see a great transformation in Paul from his first letter to Corinth to his second letter and his last letters his letters to Timothy and Philemon. The book of Acts also comes as an important evidence to this transformation of Paul wherein he overcomes his thorn by God's grace.
Today's message is one of the important verses that highlight the thorn of Paul. Although Paul had great knowledge and understanding of scriptures yet he had a problem with delivering that knowledge and understanding unto the ordinary people. Paul could not hold on to their attention for a long period of time. People who were very interested to learn, Paul had no problem to hold on to their interest for long periods, but ordinary people would find Paul's preaching boring after a while and this we see happened in Acts. Acts records in one of Pauls long preaching a person dozes off while sitting on the window edge and falls and dies. Paul then miraculously brings his back to life, even though did this great miracle yet it states people were not happy.
We have preachers who make their preaching very exciting and interesting by the show they put on the stage. They shout, jump around, crack jokes, and do funny actions among other things, for they know the worldly ways of how to handle the masses, but at the end of it when one analyses their preaching, there was nothing much they taught the people. They mostly tell people what they knew in the first place, with very little new and these things are thing which do not cause them to be shaken or cause a great change to their life, things which the Bible states smooth things that are pleasing unto the ears. They are masters in serving yesterday's food again and again by just warming it and still satisfying the people. Paul did none of these and was blunt at what he had to state, that is why most of the time part of the people accepted his teaching and changed while the other part landed becoming more hardened and worst. Paul did not make just believers but made many disciples unto the Lord.
The worst point for Paul was when he was compared to one of his own team mates and that too someone whom he was nurturing in the Lord considered as a spiritual son, and that was Timothy. Timothy was an Evangelist by Calling and thus carried power in his preaching and was able to handle large crowds of people even if they were hearing the Gospel for the first time, or people who knew the Lord but had not yet surrendered unto the Lord. This comparison by the people of Corinth upset Paul very much. They stated Paul's letters were strong but his speech week.
Even though Paul spoke humble words yet he had an area in which he needed to overcome and that is associating as a part of the Body of Christ. Even though we can do all things in Christ each one is given an ability to excel in some areas according to our Callings which others cannot... i.e. a plane can fly as well as drive (run) on the road and even may beat many cars in speed on the tar road but a plane cannot sustain this speed for long or go long distance or far places being on the road or travel rough roads. A plane is made to fly; it is the creator of the plane who made it to fly and not an ability any plane can take pride in its self, for it is natural for it to do so. Same way a boat can navigate on water; that does not make a boat greater than a plane or a plane greater than a boat.
We all who are Called by the Lord have an ability in us given by the Lord, which we cannot take pride or claim any credit for. But surely if we do not use it or we misuse it, we surely are responsible and answerable for it and have to take the shame and consequences for it.
I have seen in my life the Lord pull up people whom He had a Calling for in their life but chose to use it for worldly uses, to glorify themselves or sustain their worldly needs.
Our Church today suffers for we do not give importance to Callings. It is like the planes are driving on the roads like cars, and also are the boats moving on the roads on carts all carrying people on them. People see they are moving somewhere, so are satisfied. They do not realize the boundaries they can cross or the heights they can reach if the people Called operate according their Callings in the Lord.
[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, You have shown us in the flesh we are weak and only by your Spirit we can overcome. The Bible shows us even a great man like Paul struggled in his life, but by your Spirit he to overcame. He once said 'work for your salvation with fear and trembling' later this same man was very confident that he had finished his race and was sure not only of his salvation but to receive a high crown in Haven for he overcame his thorn. Lord, each one of us has at least one thorn in our lives which we need to overcome. Help us Lord to overcome those areas and be recipients not only of a place in Heaven but receive a High place in Heaven...
This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.
[ Reference ]
7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
1 Corinthians 2:1-4
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
2 Corinthians 1:1 - Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
2 Corinthians 10:9-13
9 That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
11 Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
13 But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.
2 Corinthians 12:6-10
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Timothy 1:2 - To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Philemon 1:1 - Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,
2 Timothy 4:5 - But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Corinthians 7:15 - And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him.
Philippians 2:12 - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
2 Timothy 4:8 - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
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