Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

I decided to go ahead and work on posting this, despite Sunday night’s pathetic attempts, because I really hope it helps encourage you. [This time I wrote it in Word and pasted it over.]

Sunday morning’s sermon at church was phenomenal. I wanted to post portions of the sermon because it was amazing, powerful, and encouraging. I hope that it helps encourage and inspire you as well.

The sermon series title is “Turning Your Trials to Gold” and series verse is Job 23:10. This sermon title is “Why Some Trials Never End” and the verses are 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He’s been preaching this series for about 7 weeks or so now, while going through his own immense trial, making it all the more meaningful and impactful.

Sermon © 2009, Dr. James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel.

These are just snippits of what he said... it’s hard to write as fast as he talks! :) For the full sermon, click here. {Only available until Sunday 2/22, when the new sermon is posted instead.}

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POINT #1: Understanding Your Thorn (vs. 7-8):

A thorn is an enduring source of pain allowed by God for our good.

Most trials are just for a season and then it goes away, but not all.

God could prevent the effects of sin (and sometimes intervenes) but normally allows broken creation to happen and inserts himself post-trial and uses it for our good.

Your thorn may impact people you never meet. The thorn is there to keep you from getting too elated or cocky.

It is going to hurt A LOT, but you will be changed by it.

A messenger of Satan gave Paul the thorn (also see Luke 22:31). We don’t know what the thorn is or how long it lasted, because God didn’t want us to know. And that’s okay.

Satan’s goal is to harass & torment us. God’s goal is if he didn’t plan to use it for your good, he wouldn’t have allowed it.

God guides the events for his purposes (vs. 8).

It may give me bumps & bruises, and it will be painful, but not fatal. Everything I say I believe is on the line right now. I’ve got to keep going.

I got to thinking about all of this... and how am I going to let my thorn affect me? Obviously, my thorn is Fibromyalgia. Am I going to let it take me over and daily frustrate and annoy me? Or am I going to let God use this in my life? I know that it won't be easy and that I won't feel like it every minute of every single day, but I do want to overall.

Point #2: Living With Your Thorn (vs. 8-10):

MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU. In the Greek it was more like: SUFFICIENT FOR YOU IS THE GRACE OF ME.

How awesome is that?!?!

Your thorn will crush you and make you bitter without the GRACE. Grace is the package all blessings come in. Grace is the capacity to do anything spiritually profitable. Grace is exactly what I need for what God wants me to do.

Your thorn is for a deeper understanding of total dependence on God.

Tough time is NOT quitting time.

Wow... I so want and need that grace each new day. I can only get through this by completely and utterly depending on God. I admit that I don't have it. I just don't have it. I do not possess the power or strength to overcome this trial or to carry myself through it.

Point #2a: Boast in your thorn to experience Christ’s power:

Yes, really… brag about it… for the power of Christ, in these ways:
1) Count your blessings
2) Elevate your prayer life
3) Lengthen & deepen your time in God’s Word
4) Tell your story
5) Focus on the prize

Hey all, I'm bragging here! God has already done some amazing things in and through me!! I can't wait to see what's next. My biggest struggle still so far is #3. I want to lengthen and deepen my time in God's Word, and it's about time I stopped making excuses like I'm too busy! I should never be too busy for God!!!!

Point #2b: Be content in your thorn to experience Christ’s purpose:

It’s not that you need to like it or enjoy it, but that you accept it and embrace it.

I am strong only for the sake of Christ. He’s the purpose of my existence.

Oh man, I have got to remember this all the time. Christ is why I'm alive and free today. He is my everything. I want nothing more than to want him more!!!

I choose to trust him. I choose to let go and let him work in and through me. I choose to stop being so negative and down-in-the-dumps. I know this road isn't going to be easy, and I know I cannot do it in my own power or strength, but in Christ's. I place myself daily at the foot of the cross, remembering that my suffering is nothing in light of the cross and all that Christ went through.

I CHOOSE TO TRUST GOD WITH MY LIFE.

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On a related note, last weekend, as we moved my brother and his family into their new home, I was walking outside in the grass (with my shoes on!) and I got stabbed by a thorn thingy that was on the ground. It literally just jumped up and grabbed me. It found its way through the mesh portion of my shoe on the side, and went fairly deep into the side of my foot.

YOWSA!!! Oh yikes did it ever hurt! Remember, my pain tolerances/levels are elevated beyond a normal person... so this may not hurt you as much as it hurt me. But let me tell you, I thought I might as well have had my foot sliced off, it hurt that much. It was bleeding and of course in a house where there were no supplies. I'm thankful I had a Band-Aid in my purse for just such an occasion! (WHEW!) **Hint to other ladies: this is a smart thing to keep in your purse. Mine was leftover from a nice lady in Cabela's once who helped me with a Band-Aid in the bathroom there after slicing my finger and dripping blood. Eww. Yes, I'm very grateful to stranger-lady!!!**

Anyway, here's a look at my foot...

It really did hurt a massive amount. The next day I could barely walk on it after getting out of bed. I noticed it was red and puffy, so my mom gave me some ointment for it. My nurse sister-in-law looked at it later and thankfully it wasn't infected! (Another WHEW!) I wore a Band-Aid and Neosporin for nearly a week.

Now here's a look at the thorn-thingy. It's BIG!! I couldn't believe this thing found it's way into my foot, just from casually being outside on the ground. Yipes...

What's really interesting is that my stepdad told me he believes its a thorn from a locust tree or something like that. It's the same thing believed to have made the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross.

Wow. That stopped me dead in my tracks.

I was amazed. I hurt so badly from one little prick of the tip of a thorn... and Jesus carried an entire crown made from these or something similar. I cannot even begin to fathom how much that must have hurt his head. What sorrow and joy filled me in that moment of realization. I experienced something similar but in much, much smaller detail. It had me clinging to the story of the cross and all Jesus went through in that time of torment and agony... for me and for you.

Oh Lord, how you amaze me. You have forgiven me even when I do not deserve it. You sent your precious son to die for me... ME! Wow. Thank you for this experience. Even though it hurt a lot, it made an impact. And it prepared me for this week's sermon about life's thorns. What a big thorn I have in the case of my Fibromyalgia, but I know that it's not the biggest thorn out there... it's not the worst of what humankind is facing. This is my personal struggle and while it is difficult for me, I know you are working it for my good. I pray that I'll be able to use it, to honor you through it, and remain positive about it so you can use it for my good and to impact others. I do not want to dwell on the negatives so much. Please help guard my heart and mind, so that Satan cannot grab hold and pull me down. I know this won't be an easy journey, and that day in and day out I will struggle with remaining positive, but I want so badly for this thorn to change me and make me who you want me to be. It is hard... it's easier sometimes to just slink into a corner and wallow in self-pity, wondering why me... why this... why now... but I know you are with me, guiding the events of my life to the ultimate perfect outcome. I want to want you more. I want to grow in you more. I want this to make its mark on me so I don't have to travel down this bumpy road ever again. May I learn the lessons you're teaching me now. Thank you for supplying all the grace that I need each day. I'm utterly amazed at your love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy.
In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.


I pray that we all remember that no matter our thorn... it could be worse. No matter our thorn... Jesus had it worse. He paid the penalty for our sin so that we could be cleansed from all unrighteousness and spend eternity in heaven with him. If you haven't invited Jesus Christ into your heart and life, I'd encourage you to do so today! For more information, click here.

Be thankful for your thorn....


3 comments:

Julie V. said...

Roe,

All I can say is AMEN sister! Well put. I hope and pray that as you continue on your journey with your thorn that God's grace would be sufficient for you and that He will continue to bring good from such painful and difficult physical circumstances.

I always stand amazed when I think of people like you who struggle daily with chronic illnesses. I'm such a wimp. I'm struggling just getting through my first trimester of pregnancy. Every day is a battle in my flesh. I feel terrible so I easily act out in my sinful flesh. I keep thinking- what if I felt like this every day for the rest of my life?

Anyway- thanks for sharing from your heart!!

Julie

Jan Barclay said...

Hi Rochelle,

Just linked to your site from James' blog today. What a blessing to read through your story. I'm going to link up my sister (in Michigan) who has RA & fibro and who is right now in the middle of breast cancer treatment.

Your site is so easy to navigate--you're good at this! When I clicked "thorn" it was so great to read through the highlights of Pastor James' sermon #5 in "Trials". I had just listened to it again in the car on the way home from seeing my sis (I, too, have the CD's and the DVD's). I wanted to get home, so I resisted the urge to pull over every few minutes and write down the incredible points from the sermon. =) So it was great to see that you had done it! One favorite thing was "Sufficient for you is the grace of Me." Wow, that's so great, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing your journey--I'll check back often. See you in church!

Jan Barclay

Josh and Jess said...

Wow, that's awesome Rochelle, and so similar to the sermon our Pastor preached last Sunday :) Your blog is such a blessing to us all!!!