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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost 

(Rev. Kelly Bedard is on vacation).

Option A: From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

"How To Understand A Thorn In The Flesh"
2 Cor. 12:7-10

  I. God allows it for your good

 A. It is a "messenger of Satan"--cf. Job 1:12

 B. God makes it work for good--Rom. 8:28

 II. He wants you to pray about it--Lk. 18:1

 A. He may not remove it--text, vv.8-9

 B. He will give you grace to bear it--v.9

 C. He will make you better through it--Isa. 40:31, Isa. 41:10, Eph. 3:16

 III. It is a work of God to boast about

 A. It makes you rely more on Christ--Heb. 11:33-34

 B. When you do, your weakness becomes strength-- 2 Cor. 13:4

Albert Barnes writes:

 (1) That a Christian never loses anything by suffering and affliction. If he may obtain the favor of Christ by his trials he is a gainer. The favor of  the Redeemer is more than a compensation for all that we endure in his cause.
 (2) the Christian is a gainer by trial. I never knew a Christian that was not ultimately benefited by trials. I never knew one who did not find that he had gained much that was valuable to him in scenes of affliction. I do not know that I have found one who would be willing to exchange the advantages he has gained in affliction for all that the most uninterrupted prosperity and the highest honors that the world could give would impart.
 (3) learn to bear trials with joy. They are good for us. They develop some of the most lovely traits of character. They injure no one if they are properly received. And a Christian should rejoice that he may obtain what he does obtain in affliction, cost what it may. It is worth more than it costs; and when we come to die, the things that we shall have most occasion to thank God for will be our afflictions. And, O! if they are the means of raising us to a higher seat in heaven, and placing us nearer the Redeemer there, who will not rejoice in his trials?

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

Option Two: Rev. Thomas F. Fischer
(From the Sermon Series "Knowing God")

"How To Know God’s Power”
II Cor. 12:7-10

I. How Powerful Is God?

A. His omnipotence is undeniable
B. His omnipotence is, however, forgettable
C. Key to Faith: Know--and not forget--God's Power

II. Paul's Insights on How To Know--And Discover--God's Power

A. First Insight (v. 7): We must have pain ("Thorn in flesh")

B. Second Insight (v. 7): We must finally seek God's interventive healing

C. Third Insight (v. 8): We must learn to pray in humble faith.

D. Fourth Insight (v. 8): We must humbly learn to accept God's answer to prayer.

E. Fifth Insight (v. 9-10): We know God's grace and love best when we're weakest. This is, however, our source of joy because in when we are weak, God reduces our power to such low levels that we cannot but help see His power for us.

III How To Know God's Power

A. Like Paul, expect to experience weakness

B. Like Paul, approach God in faith

C. Like Paul, recognize that God's answer is not to punish but to demonstrate HIS power

D. Like Paul, we have great joy when we see His almighty power working in weakness.

E. Like Paul, we know that bringing joy from weakness is God's pattern is the pattern of grace and salvation in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:4ff).

IV Postscript on "Prayer"

Many feel that God answers prayer as we wish. When He doesn't grant what we wish for, we often feel that God is either ignoring us, not powerful enough to answer our prayer, or is punishing us. Paul's experience is that even the "chief of all sinner's" ardent prayer is subject to God's will. Having prayed three times, God simply said "No." The problem wasn't Paul's faith. Nor was it some sort of "hidden" unconfessed sin.

God, in His love, simply knew that Paul's witness for Jesus Christ and Paul's experience of God's power was best served through the life-long experience of the thorn in the flesh. Though he was not healed, Paul had the greatest confidence in the most important aspect of God's power: The power of God unto salvation in Christ Jesus. It was his by grace, regardless of his physical condition. It was in this weakened condition--and only in this weakened condition--that God could enable Paul to Know God's Power in an unprecedented, illimitable manner. Thus, though his prayer was unanswered, his weakened condition led him to the confidence in God's power for his life.

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

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