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


Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Series B

Option #1: "How to Understand a Thorn in the Flesh"
2 Corinthians 2:7-10
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.S., M.Div.

  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, vv8-9

 B. He will give you grace to bear it--v9

 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:

Learn:
 (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, oh, 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?

+   +   +
 
Option #2: "God's Power Play: Thorn(s)"
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
 
Point: God is our greatest strength!
 
Problem: We put too much confidence in and reliance upon ourselves and purported personal abilities, gifts, and talents.
 
Promise: Because God became weak in Jesus, suffering and dying for our perceived strengths/real sins, the Holy Spirit gives us power and strength to endure the thorn(s) of life and to give others hope in the midst of theirs.
 
1. In the book The Missing Piece, Shel Silverstein tells the story of a circle from which a large triangular wedge had been cut. The circle wanted to be whole with nothing missing, so it went around looking for its missing piece. But because it was incomplete and therefore could roll only very slowly, it admired the flowers along the way. It chatted with the worms. It enjoyed the sunshine. It found lots of different pieces, but none of them fit. So it left them all by the side of the road and kept on searching. Then one day the circle found a piece that fit perfectly. It was so happy. Now it could be whole, with nothing missing. It incorporated the missing piece into itself and began to roll again. Now that it was a perfect circle, it could roll very fast, too fast, in fact, to notice the flowers or talk to the worms. When the circle realized how different the world seemed when it rolled so quickly, it stopped, left its piece by the side of the road, and rolled slowly away. The circle learned what God had also taught St. Paul (2 Cor 12:7–10): that in some strange sense, we are more whole when we are missing something. (Dennis Goff)
 
2. Paul’s trouble is administered by the devil--but to suit God’s gracious purpose: that Paul not exalt himself. The believer always remains in God’s care, for Satan may never afflict beyond what God allows... True strength requires seeing our weaknesses... The Lord...uses our weaknesses to show us where true strength lies... Since the Lord has taken care of the greatest need we will ever have, which is salvation in him, he can then take care of all other needs as well. His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. (Dennis Goff)
 
3. Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah

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