Passage for Study: Acts 18: 1 - 17 … Acts 18 linked for study …
2nd Passage for study: 2nd Corinthians 11: 22 – 28 … [self search and study in 2nd Cor. 11 required]
3rd Passage for study: 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 – 11 … [self search and study in 2nd Cor. 12 required]
My Journal for Today: Today’s devotional by Chuck Swindoll, taken from the life of the Apostle Paul as an exemplar, means a lot to me personally. And perhaps this top title, The Power of Weakness, defines my approach to life as much as any of Swindoll’s devotionals might. Maybe it will mean a lot to other readers of my daily blog as well. Maybe you?!
We have a tendency to see the Apostle Paul as a giant of the faith, … a strong man of God, who wrote about how to do battle against spiritual enemies (see Eph. 6: 10 – 18), and the one who wrote encouraging letters while imprisoned with the threat of losing his life, but still writing to churches he had planted throughout Asia Minor and Greece. He was the determined evangelist who experienced all we read about in 2nd Cor. 11: 22-28; and yet he stayed true to his calling? His strength of purpose and resolve almost seems super-human. But in all of that spiritual fruitfulness, we learn from one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture (see 2nd Cor. 12: 7-11) that Paul had learned from Jesus Himself, the secret to strength; and that was the recognition and humble acknowledgement of his own weakness.
And what a lesson this is for all of us; because, like Paul, none of us is super-human. Oh, some may have a physical/emotional pain tolerance, which is greater than others. But in reality, we all, like Paul, have our “thorns,” and we all need God’s strength to cover our weakness. So, in the 2nd Cor. 12 passage, referenced today, we read that Paul actually got to the point that he could brag about his weaknesses; because he knew that when he recognized how weak he was, he could come to God’s throne of grace and humbly receive the enabling and empowering grace to cover him, to lift him up, and to carry him through any “thorn” in life, such as those he documented in 2nd Cor. 11.
My friend, I know, like myself, you have had your “thorns.” I’d be willing to bet the ranch that you’ve had your “shipwrecks.” And perhaps you’ve been “flogged” or “imprisoned” in some figurative, if not literal, sense in your life. Well, if so, join me and the Apostle Paul in the realization of what Pastor Chuck Swindoll is trying to get across to us today; … and that is the message of 2nd Cor. 12: 9 from no less than Jesus, Himself. Dear one, this is the only red-letter verse in all of the Pauline epistles, ... that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.”
Now I added the pronoun referent (to “your” weakness) above to personalize God’s general message that He is willing, through the grace empowerment of His Spirit, to give us whatever we need in whatever challenge we might face, … all the strength, direction, and focus we might need to make it through any “thorn” we might face in life. My dear one, go back and meditate on Prov. 3: 5-6, Isaiah 41: 10, 1st Cor. 10: 13, 2nd Peter 1: 7, and 2nd Peter 1: 1-4 and you’ll see that message of God’s empowerment in the face of our weakness being repeated over and over again.
The question becomes, do we believe God when He trumpets His strength to empower us when we recognize and acknowledge our own weakness … OR NOT?! Because if we cannot believe this truth, we become slaves, shackled to our own circumstances; and Satan has us exactly where he wants us, … broken by our own lack of faith. But when we recognize the truths I have simply repeated from God’s word for you today, and we believe them, we can be lifted up and enabled to meet any thorn, shipwreck, or prison we might face in life. >>> That is my prayer for all of us.
My Prayer for Today: My God, like Paul, I sit here, wracked by the pain of my age, having many human weaknesses, but realizing that in You and from You I can receive Your enabling grace to live onward and to be empowered for Your purpose. Amen