"ALL SUFFICIENT GRACE"
I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS NOT DEVOID OF PROBLEMS. GOD DOES NOT GIVE US A DIVINE IMMUNITY FROM ALL SUFFERING AND PAIN.
A. Sooner or later into every life some tears will fall.
1. We are living in a world that is cursed because of sin.
2. One of the curses is death, and if you have not as yet felt the pain of having a loved one die, in time you will.
B. Non-christians experince many sorrows, sickness and death.
C. Christian's also experience these things, however God never allows us to experience pain or suffering unless he has a divine eternal purpose for it.
1. Nothing happens to us except God has allowed it to happen, and if God has allowed it, He has a good purpose for it.
2. God does not send pain into our lives capriciously. There is always a good reason for it.
3. It is a lie of Satan that says, because you are a Christian, you can now have prosperity, and never be sick or suffer pain.
4. Satan likes to promote that doctrine, for he uses it often to destroy a persons faith.
5. As soon as they have a painful experience such as a death in the family, they then feel that the Lord has failed them, or that they somehow failed the Lord with perhaps a negative confession
D. What is our first and initial response to a painful experience?
1. It is what it should be prayer.
2. As the lyrics to that song goes,
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a priviledge to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
E. Prayer does not always mean that we will automatically escape the pain or sorrow.
1. Jesus while in the garden was in great agony as He prayed that the cup might pass from Him. However He added, "Not My will but Thine be done." He then drank the cup.
2. His was a classic case of suffering according to the will of God.
a. Peter wrote that if any of us should suffer according to the will of God we should commit the keeping or our souls unto Him as unto a faithful Creator.
II. PAUL IS WRITING ABOUT A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE THAT HE WAS GOING THROUGH, HE CALLED IT A THORN IN THE FLESH.
A. If we say thorn we are usually thinking of a mild irritant. Like some little cactus thorn.
1. The word that Paul used in the Greek is stake.
2. It is the word that was used for a tent stake.
3. Much more than a mild irritant.
B. Paul's first response was prayer. In fact he prayed three times concerning this dibilatating pain.
1. When he finally got his answer, it was not what he was asking, for he was asking that it would be removed.
2. He was wanting the Lord to take away the pain. He was desiring healing.
3. Instead of healing God actually gave him something better, the promise of God. "My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
4. God's grace is sufficient to take us through any and all trials that we may face on earth.
C. It is important that we come to experience this all sufficient grace.
1. This grace will take us through the darkest nights with a smile.
2. This grace will sustain us when all else has failed us.
3. This grace will turn our crosses into crowns.
D. Paul called his thorn in the flesh a minister of Satan buffeting him.
1. He recognized that God has power over all of the powers of darkness, and that He could easily deliver Paul from this pain.
2. He also came to realize that this thorn in the flesh was necessary to keep him humble. Because of the abundance of the revelations given unto him, because of his indescrible visit into heaven, it would be so easy to be exhalted into a state of spiritual pride.
3. He later wrote concerning suffering, that the present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. He had had a taste of that glory.
III. PAUL'S CHANGED ATTITUDE CONCERNING THE THORN.
A. He no longer looked upon it as a curse, but saw it as a blessing.
B. He goes so far as to glory in it, or to praise God for it.
1. He stated, "Most gladly will I glory in my infirmities that the power of God may rest upon me."
2. He looked beyond the weakness and the pain to the glorious fruit that God was bringing into his life, for it forced him to stay close to God that he might experience His strength.
3. The psalmist said,
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
4. Again he said,
[It is] good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
5. He then acknowledged,
I know, O LORD, that thy judgments [are] right, and [that] thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
6. Affliction is often the time of our greatest spiritual growth.
a. It is in the storm that the roots are forced to go deep.
b. Affliction develops a depth of relationship.
7. Apathy is a deadly spiritual virus that overtakes us so easily and spreds so rapidly throughout our whole system.
a. We like being comfortable. We resent being taken out of our comfort zone.
b. There seems to be a nesting instinct in all of us.
c. Moses wrote a song for the children of Israel, the purpose was instruction in basic principles of relating to God. So that when trouble came into their lives, the words of the song would be brought into mind and instruct them.
He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
[So] the LORD alone did lead him, and [there was] no strange god with him.
d. The eagles generally build their nests high up on a cliff and when the time has come for the little eaglets to fly the mother will flutter over the nest and push the little eaglet out of the nest.
e. There follows a futile flapping of wings as the little eaglet plummets head over talons seemingly to be dashed on the rocks, but the mother swoops under the falling eaglet and bears it on her wings back to the nest for the test to be made again on another day.
f. Ultimately the little eaglet begins to get the hang of flying.
g. Have you ever felt that God had forsaken you and that you were tumbling head over heels to certain death?
h. In contrast to Jacob, Moses wrote of Jeshurun,
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered [with fatness]; then he forsook God [which] made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
They provoked him to jealousy with strange [gods], with abominations provoked they him to anger.
They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new [gods that] came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Of the Rock [that] begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
And when the LORD saw [it], he abhorred [them],
i. You have heard the saying, "No pain, no gain." So it seems in our spiritual walk.
C. What Paul learned through the thorn in his flesh.
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.
1. It is possible that what he called his thorn was all of these things, but the lesson learned was when he was weak, then was he strong.
2. We seldom stumble at our places of personal weakness, for we recognizing our weakness, flee to the Rock that is higher than we.
3. It is in our places of personal strength that we usually fail, for we are so prone to trust in ourselves and not feel the need of the Lord's strength.
4. God's declaration to Paul was, "My strength is made perfect in weakness."