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Ian Wright - January 27, 2019

God's all sufficient Grace

AUTOMATICALLY TRANSCRIBED SERMON BELOW. Already this winning Second Corinthians 12, verses one to 10. The heading is Paul's vision, visions, and his throne. I must go around boasting or there is nothing to be gained by it. Our go to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who 14 years ago was caught up to the third heaven whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know. God knows and I know that this man was caught up into paradise, whether in the body or out of the body I do not know. God knows, and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not ever her behalf of this man, I will boast, but on my own self, on my own behalf, I will not boast except of my weaknesses. Though if I should wish to boast, not be a fool for our would be speaking the truth, but I refrain from it so that no one may think more of me then he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger from Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me, but he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my pair is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me for the sake of Christ. Then I'm content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I'm weak, then I'm strong, bright, father's amazing testimony here. I'm one of your great servants and what a great listener was. He had to learn and we pray that you might help us along that same road, that same lesson in our lives as well. We pride that for Jesus' sake. Amen. Well, sometimes in life we can be dealt a pretty rough deal. A pretty disappointing things can happen and as we read through the Bible, the Old Testament, New Testament, as we read church history, we find that we're not alone. This is common for God's people to go through difficulties. I'm not thinking of those things that are a direct result of me doing the wrong thing or hopefully, you know, saying the wrong thing things, but things over which we have little control. Maybe it had to do with our upbringing, my bay. It's a physical disability. Maybe it's a glaring personality flaw or fault of Florida, Eh personality. Maybe an incident where you an innocent victim, victim perhaps of rejection of ms dot [inaudible] or injustice, and we say sometimes people who the world looks on and says, man, I have had the worst of luck. Every possible good guy, wrong is going wrong with them. How do we as Christians that I cope with things that do go wrong when life does throw us, as I say, curve balls that come from left field and hit us for six? How do we cope with them without being overcome by them, without giving up, without becoming bitter about it, without hiding behind a mosque and pretending everything's fine when inside were just a total mess? How do we cope with it? With epi coming controlled by self pity, without just wanting to withdraw into some sort of a cocoon, well, I think the Gospel gives us a lie and then Paul spells it out. Here it is, I think to come to appreciate and to appropriate the trees that he speaks about hearing signature Indians, 12 as pulpits that we come to appreciate the all sufficient grace of Christ, but we also come to appreciate the cross power is made perfect in our weaknesses. If you think of the background of this church and current, the first, the first letter that Paul wrote as it was one missing eye sight because he refers to one that we don't have, but the first one we see a church that's got massive massive sorts of problems, isn't it? It's filled with conflict with division and a church given to compromise and in the letter that we have second grade and the he polis bay, his soul as it were, speak so much about what it's like to be involved in his ministry and he does it for the purpose of encouraging them to correct them and to protect them. They've been infiltrated chapter live in verse four and five says by Super Apostles, Super Apostles. These were the ones that are above polled and John and Peter, et cetera. These are the ones who claimed to have had great spiritual experiences, great knowledge, great revelations. They are extra special and compared to poll. He's just in a different lake. They why above it and so that then of course leads to great product, doesn't have that leads them to want to attack pole and his person and his ministry and his authority and what he's been saying. So in chapters 10 to 13 of Second Corinthians, we see pulled dealing with this problem in a way that he's incredibly rare for him and what's rare about it as he starts to talk about himself and his own life, his own ministry and his experiences. He highlights his experiences as an apostle and the revelation that he's had. When usually he makes no reference to himself at all. You think back to that amazing passage in chapter 11 where he talks about his heritage and then he goes on to talk and list off all the different things that he's been through and you think, man, why is this guy still going? Why did he just take this as the Lord's God? You to say you're doing something really, really wrong here, but let me read you some of the things you went through. Live is more often more imprisonments, countless beatings, often near death. Five times I received from the hands of the Jews. 40 lashes minus one three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned three times, I was shipwrecked, a die in the not adrift at Sea. In frequent journeys in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, gentiles in danger in the city, in the Wilderness, danger at sea from false brothers in toil and hardship through many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst often without food, cold and exposure and apart from other things. Is the daddy pressure on May the anxiety for all the churches? Is that is it exhausting list? Is it not? Wouldn't you think this guy should just get a retirement home and just live at his dies peacefully, but it is not. The Apostle Paul does it. He then goes on following that to this light of his 30 in chapter 11 and he makes another astatic stipend. He says, if I must boast all boast about the things that show my weakness and he gives an example then of being lit over a basket on the wall of Damascus united in Syria there to escape persecution. Maybe he signed it. That's not my brightest moment. Mobileye greatest fate, united getting lumped in and a basket. It was a bit humiliated. Possibly. He's thinking of the humiliation of it. It's a bit like scoring in the World Cup soccer grand final. And the problem was it was an own goal. You know, it's, it's not something you'd boast about but, but Paul Saints to based of Betty's weaknesses. So then we come to this chapter, chapter 12. He talks about this revelation that he once had and it was an incredible one. I don't refer to it. I can't find any other reference to it in the New Testament. And his writings, but this was something absolutely phenomenal that God had given to him and because he's never written about anywhere else, wait, we now he's reluctant to talk about it, but in this one passage he does talk about this incredible experience that he had already know. Talk about this more often. I believe it's because he knew the gospel was far, far greater. What Jesus done for him is far greater than the experience he had, and so this was given to keep him from conceit versus seven to 10 talks about this thorn in the flesh was that was given to him to keep him from pride. He begins that chapter talking about this person in the third person doesn't eat. I know this person. I'll talk about him. This manning crossed who had this astonishing revelation in verses three and five, he distances himself from this person is is this main one? Verse four, he says, Hey, I still don't know it's him, but then in verse seven, he comes out with and says, so to keep me from conceit, this revelation, that revelation, a thorn in the flesh was given to me because it was so great, so incredible. This revelation that a thorn in the flesh was given to him and it's purpose is to keep him from pride. It's a very simple, very uncomplicated purposes, and it can save. The old King James version has the words puffed up and that's sort of quite picturesque, isn't puffed up with pride. It just is out the nose as high in the air, and that leads. When we're praying, when we're puffed up, it leads us to be disparaging towards others who we estimate out as good or as noisy, as capable as we might think we might be. Did Paul have things that he could be conceited about, that he could be proud about? What we've read a fatalist I think that would say here, that'd be. That's not a bad CV. That would impress people, his experiences, his revelation, all that he accomplished, the number of churches that he planted. You look at it all and you think, wow, how did you get through all that? You can be quite proud of all you've achieved, and he talks about this revelation. There's surpassing greatness of revelations. If you go to chrome books, sometimes it's very discouraging, isn't it? To see what the best selling buggies, someone's experience of entering heaven and just sort of disappears again off the scene and other ones you're not gonna have you're gonna have your best life now and you think is the apostle Paul write that such such a letter like that, such a book like that. As great as it was for the Apostle Paul is great experience. It came. Nothing came nowhere near the greatness of the Gospel and so when you, when you hear that list of what Paul achieved, we staying beside pole and you feel like a legless a danger. He's this superhero is at work and he says, I don't want to talk with any of that. I want to talk about my weaknesses because that shows the power of God in my life. So what was the thought? Well, there's been many centuries from many, many attempts to define it from the second century on a and all of them are unprovable, so you won't be getting home from tricia a have cracked it. Now I know what the thorn was because there's been so many well malaria and our problem, guilt or depression, ivoree's persecution of Christians such as Steven. Well, the thorn in the flesh, some suggests was the Jewish persecution of him or persecution from the gentiles as well. Wherever he went, some suggests it was Migraines, some suggested was epilepsy, some suggests it was a speech deficiency. And as you can say, there's no limit there. Anything missing. There is the in laws that Paul was a single man, so I guess he didn't have that problem, but we just don't know what it was. And isn't it good that we don't know and you think if his problem was gout, we'd know that God's grace is sufficient for get, but with God's grace, be sufficient. If I had an eyesight problem or I had a speech deficiency or if I had migraines or if I had epilepsy or if I had whatever, and then what a shame, God's grace wouldn't be sufficient for that, but of course God in his great wisdom doesn't tell us what is stored in the flesh was and for that we praise and thank him for his wisdom, but what can we know about for certain we can know for certain that this thorn in the flesh was something major. It wasn't some minor irritation. Those things we listed there in chapter 11 of all things he went through. He didn't go through those things every day of his ministry for 14 years did either they come, came and went over periods of time. Sometimes it was extended. Other times they would have been periods of pace. I think of the years he was the church at Ephesus. It doesn't seem to have been great persecution there in the Gds, but I would come and go just as it is for the persecuted church today. Sometimes it's. It becomes extreme and other times it's there in a way that's just beneath the surface, lack of promotion, closing job opportunity, not able to study now job open, that sort of thing, but then there's other times where it becomes quite real and uh, and volunteer. But as heavy as those issues were for the Apostle Paul, it says, though he easily carried them and I can't read any verse where he wants an out from them, but that's not the other problem is this thorn in the flesh. This thorn in the flesh is, is obviously very debilitating, possibly painful, possibly embarrassing, possibly all three of those things. But the second thing denied. Not only is it something real and serious, it's also something that he saw simultaneously as a work of Satan, but also we saw as something of God as well. He says there that a messenger from site and was sent to me, this thorn in the flesh to to wound him, to limit him to defeat him. This messenger from site to site and can inflict physical damage. Caddy, I think of the story of job in the Old Testament drive is allowed to inflict physical damage on job. Also, in First Corinthians Five, five apostle Paul's talking about a member of the in either the first letter that deals with so many problems in the church and the one particular case where the Apostle Paul says, of one person delivers such a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit by beside on the day of the Lord, Jesus said, there's another case, isn't it? That the site can inflict physical damage. So because this comes from Satan, it's not surprising that Paul turns to God for its removal. It's not always easy to soon though, is it though what is of Satan and and sometimes what is just from within us, but it does get more complicated because Paul also says God's involved in it comes from God as well. Remember the purpose of it, the purpose of it was to keep him from conceit. That would not be Satan's tactic side and would not do things to keep us from pride. Satan would do the opposite. Hey, we're want to. Mike has moved towards pride. More pride after that would not be silenced. Golf pride was a tactic that site and used in the garden of Eden. Dignity with Adam and eve. You'll be like, God, you'll have this knowledge. You know the difference between good and evil. He God's just keeping it back, it holding back on you. And of course it was used for thousands and thousands of other times ever since. And it still reminds a great tactic of site. And today in the artists we read of, of examples of fraud like Saul, King David, when he took the census, James and John as to close to cycles of Jesus who, who, um, I want to top billing. They wanted the best seats in the house, one of the right one on the left. Can I get better than that? So here he is, he's touching here on a really important lesson. And often we try to isolate incidents and problems in our life. All. Well, that's just all Satan and we don't see God or it's the opposite. It's all God. And we say, no, no, no issue that side. And contempt us, but life is not always that simple, is it? Life is not always that simple. Even in the works of Satan, God is still at work and even when God works in your heart, Seitan is ever ready to work as well. You think of the death of the Lord Jesus. Who did that work? Was that site, knows that God? Well, it's both, isn't it? It's both. Let me read some scriptures. Luke 2152 talks about man's dark astera. Jesus said to the chief priests and the officers of the temple and the elders had come out against him. This is to arrest him and you come out against me as a robber with swords and clubs. When I was with you, Diana, Diane, the temple. Did you not lie? Hands on me that this is your hour. The power of the darkness that was man's darkest hour was also the x of wicked men. X Two 32. This is Peter on the day of pentecost saying this. Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and for knowledge of God, so God's involved in it as well. You crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, so was the definite for knowledge plane of God, but you did it. Work of God, work of wicked men. It was an ugly conspiracy in chapter four of exodus 27 for truly the city. This city in the city were gathered against the Holly Holly Servant Jesus, whom you anointed. Herod Punches Pot along with the gentiles and the people of Israel. What a lovely bunch of people, Herod Pod, the Jews and the gentiles will put covers everyone. Doesn't it? This ugly conspiracy and yet wallet was means Daca Stairwell. It was the act of wicked men wall. It wasn't ugly conspiracy. We also see that God was involved. It was God's will have decided what would happen beforehand in x, one slash 16 brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. Another reference to the, to the prophets in the Old Testament saying that this would happen. So it had to be an act of God. Chapter Seven, verse 52, which of the prophets digital fathers not persecuted and they killed those who announced before hand the coming of the righteous one whom you have never tried admitted, so even in the death of Jesus, it's an active site and it's an active goal. It's an act of evil as an active great love. We can say the same thing about the second coming of Jesus site and will be very active, but gold will even be more active. We could say the same about a Christian's death. Death is the penalty of sin, isn't it? Physical death, but it's also where we go to be with the Lord. God is even great more greatly at work, but there's this tension isn't there with the Apostle Paul, as he thought about his stolen, there was nothing intrinsically good about it, and now Amanda Pious talk and church talk could cover it up. It was painful to him and he certainly didn't enjoy it. It's a bit like Johnny Erickson with a wheelchair, isn't she? She hates it, and yet she knows that without that, she would never have known gold the way she did. She can say site and involved, but even more so she can see God involved in it as well, but Paul did not see that there was. He could see there was a good reason for it and that was to keep him from pride. Let's just think for a moment what an enormous problem pride must be for Paul to have to have such a strong constraint and restraint on his life, his thorn in the flesh that never left him and had him for the rest of his life. What an enormous problem. Priorities. So then we come to verses eight and nine where Paul's prayer for God's grace, Paul felt this was just too much to bear. Three times he pleads with Jesus. This is one of those cases in the Bible where he where he's actually praying to Jesus and these are not casual morning devotions, but these are three separate and sustained periods of initiation with Jesus himself, but he does not get the answer. He wanted the answer. He gets ease. Your migration is sufficient for you. For my parents, my perfect. In your weakness, Paul wanted relief, but he didn't get the relief that he expected or was pleading for. He got a different kind of relief for thought as we often think, don't we weren't going through a trial. The only way I can get relief is this decision should be removed, completely gone, but sometimes as in Paul's life, as in our life, the issue is not removed. No physical miracle might happen, but actually a greater miracle might happen in our hearts and minds and we see this miracle happening in the Apostle Paul, this great shift as he goes on to prove the sufficiency of God's grace and knowing God's parodies, weakness, God gave relief by giving more grace, sufficient grace, and to learn about the true power of God in his life. For you, apply that to our own life as young people or older people. We go through whatever we go through at the moment. It may be things that happened to you years ago and you're still affected by them and you carry an enormous lodge. You might say, as the scripture says, cinema bound. It was eva what happened to me? Terrible, but the Bible goes on to say, we're seeing a banner grace, much more abandoned and Paul Learns, my grace is made perfect in weakness. God responds to our weakness is more grace, sufficient grace. What does efficient mean means enough? Doesn't it? All that's required, nothing lacking, and that's not an easy lesson for the apostle Paul to learner. Certainly not an easy lesson for me or for you, I suggest and he learned it in the midst of suffering. It's a lesson. Of course that requires a strong choice on our part and the places we learned that lesson and not the places of our choosing other. They may be places where Sina bands were great role has been done to us. It might be a place of physical suffering of longterm illness. It may be a place of financial hardship. Someone was dishonest and you've paid the price. It may be a place of family pressure or heartache on all of that's included in this first 10, isn't it for the sake of Christ. Then he says, I'm content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. I'm content with all those things he says, for when I'm weak, then I'm strong. These are some of the things Paul says that would show me my weakness. There would make me wake insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. Don't we all have days where we're weak, sometimes months where we're weak, even years where we're weak and Paul says on content with my weaknesses because they show me my weakness and that's where I'm strongest. When I know my weaknesses, the word weaknesses there, or Paul applies all of this to the thorn, but he broadens their to include then these things like weaknesses and infirmities where we just are unable to produce results and I'm sure the apostle Paul, when he prayed that God would get rid of this thorn in the flesh. I'm sure he could list so many, many reasons as to why God should, because I'd be so much more effective. I'll be able to reach more towns, more cities with the Gospel. I'll be able to go to Spain. I'd be able to go even to England, Poor Fella and take the gospel. Sorry Stella. I shouldn't say that. I did hear one square, they got the word Palmy from is when the sections and vikings first arrived. Typical English day. They said, poor me, poor me, poor me. That's it for dad. Jokes today, Paul talks about insults. Well, he likes to be insulted. Reproaches, they're injured or something like that. They are harmful to us and he's on content with insults. We run from them. I'm content with hardships, lacking even the necessities of life, as Paul said, hunger and thirst, persecution, so I'm content with that. He says, which means to be put to flight, to drive away and distresses. Anguish as another version. The word literally means narrowness of place. You're in a tight corner, you squeezed in, you can't turn to the right or the left. You can't go backwards, and even in the front there's this massive problem and he says, you're in distress. That's what the word, that's the picture of the word means you constrained. You're being squeezed, says, I'm even content there because it shows me all weaknesses. When God shows me my weaknesses, it thrust me back onto God where I get my strength from and it says in verse nine, he says, I gladly boast the very same reason, same verse. My grace is sufficient, therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest on me. And that second half of the verse, you know if you put a fridge magnet up properly, we have really liked that fridge magnet says, my grace is sufficient for you, for you, but that's only part of this. If you want that on your fridge magnets, you need to have the thorn to go with it. Okay? Because that that first went with a thorn. I really big one for the rest of the verse is not just my parents, my weakness, his parents might perfectly weakness are will boast. All the more gladly of my weakness said the power of Christ may be my wrist upon me. GotTa take the whole verse. Why does he gladly boast? Why does he think this is so noteworthy that he can boast as poll? Is he just all talk? Is has he got the goods compared to the Super Apostles? He wasn't as good as them. Is he all talk like them? Is He really there as he lost his marbles? Is he hiding from reality? Does he? Does he think he can work it all out? Is he the ancient version of the power of positive thinking about you just think positive enough. I'll get through this, this difficulty that no matter how positive his thinking was, this tone was very even more positive, wasn't it? Why would you boast in your weaknesses? It's such a break with convention. Then super apostles boasted about their strengths poor by severities, weaknesses. It's counterculture then and it's counter culture now, isn't it? Why would you do that with a clue is Jesus, isn't it for Christ's sake? When I'm Wakest, I'm strong. When I'm weakest, Cross pairs most evident, the weaker I am, the more grace I need and the more grace I need, the more grace I receive, and the more grace I received, the more grace will be seen by others, and the more people see of God's grace in my life, the more Christ is honored or wonderful text. So the pleasure he received. He was from seeing God's at work in his weaknesses, just as poor gives God all the glory for his salvation. He also gives God all the glory for his growth. How different from the false teachers I boasted about their great strengths, Paulie's weaknesses. I boasted about what they could do. They boasted about having their act together. I had the victorious Christian life. The fact that no one could be that they always have pizza and that Paul says is wrong, very wrong. It's unreal. It's not related to what life's really like. So though is the other extreme of being overcome by our problems in our weaknesses or our thorn in the flesh is now on a forgotten either extreme. Is that the only real help for the Christian is the all sufficient grace of Christ before, as we said before we put that text in their fridges, we need to remember that it goes with a thorn, doesn't it? And it's just as relevant to our persecuted brothers and sisters as it is to us today is that strong link here. Philippians three, isn't it? Four? 13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He's the one who provides the strength. So conclusion. Let me just say two things about what makes this relevant to us. In these chapters, Paul, us exposing what, what kind of thinking is what unspiritual thinking is what fleshly thinking is. Carnal thinking is all about getting power and prestige and a big name. Carnal thinking relies on the celebrities are lots of money on size to win. People over carnal thinking does not use the weak things of life, and this is Paul's warning Rimbaud in Corinthians. Not many noble, not many mighty, not many great in this world that God uses. He does use some, but not many. Through the centuries God has grown his church best set of weakness, hasn't he be at the early church when they're being persecuted, be at the church in Sudan and China and all the Christian missionaries were kicked out, be it in Russia and countries around. They under the Soviet Union was in those periods of weakness. Looking on from the outside that that's when God does his greatest work, so Paul is showing us what carnal thinking is and then he shows us what true Christian spiritual thinking is. It's not about how great we are or how well we're now in o'hare. Important we think we are or want to get past wonderful experiences. It is boasting in another thing. It's boasting in what Jesus has done. It's knowing that God's grace in their life is more important than anything else. It's boasting in Jesus power, being real in our weaknesses. It's about knowing God's grace is more important, more real, more helpful than the removal of any thought that we might have. It's very hard to boast about your weaknesses as an even harder to delighting them. Have nowhere near that level for Paul, the victorious Christian life was not a bad one. Great one off experience that took you into paradise and brought him back again. The third heaven. Neither was some kind of special knowledge that he had for pole. The victorious Christian law was all about his weaknesses and proving God there and the God chooses the weak things of law after work so that no one can boast. Said that all glory goes to him. That's probably well, we're not told how long it took the apostle Paul to learn that incredible. Listen, we know he prayed three times. We're not told over how many years we do know there was three specific times where he saw chew and especially on his knees. No Dad pleading with you to move this problem and yet you chose to work at different miracle and you worked. A miracle in his law said that he could show that he is strongest when he's awake because when he's at his weakest, he depends most on you. Just as haylight that Lord. Wait, I need to learn that too. We all need to learn it, and so we pray to God that in your grace and mercy, your teacher says things even if it involves a so called born, something we wish we'd never, ever had, and yet you give to us to teach us about yourself and your grace and about our sales as well. You're a merciful and gracious God and Loving heavenly father who tenderly cares for the children you adopt and takes a safely home to heaven. And so until that day, Lord, way white, we watch, we pray for each other and for our own cells that in our weakness, we will find your strength sufficient. We pride for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Scripture References: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

From Series: "The Attributes of God"

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