The Apostle Paul was the greatest preacher ever. His obedience and sacrificial service to Jesus are something that we should all imitate. There is no doubt that when he was beheaded for his Savior the next thing, he heard was his Heavenly Father saying, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”
Yes, Paul was a great man of God. And yet he suffered from what he called a thorn in the flesh.” What was this “thorn in the flesh”? No one knows. It could have been an illness, a deformity, blindness, or anything that affected his physical body.
There is one thing that I have never heard anyone else suggest. Maybe Paul’s thorn in the flesh was an addiction. Maybe he was addicted to alcohol or drugs or food or even porn. Some people would say; “Paul could not have had an addiction because he was a Godly man.” Yes, he was a Godly man but he was not a perfect man, He had faults and his faults made him feel like he was ” the chief of sinners”. God does not use perfect people; He uses broken people. Especially those with thorns in their flesh.
The Bible does not answer every question, and that is a good thing. It is a fact that all Christians struggle with sin, even the Godliest among us. All of us have a thorn in the flesh of some kind. We do not know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. But we do know that God’s grace was sufficient for Paul and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
One of the blessings of the Bible not giving us all the answers is this; not knowing what Paul suffered, we can identify with him in our suffering. When we feel wretched and wonder who will deliver us from this body of death, we too can thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord. Because God’s grace was sufficient for Paul’s thorn in the flesh and it is still sufficient for yours.
Blessed are the poor in spirit because you realize that God has chosen you to be rich in faith. Your poverty will be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn over their sinfulness because Godly sorrow brings repentance. Repentance leads to Salvation that leaves no regrets.
Blessed are the meek. Your gentle power comes from the knowledge that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. You know that the righteousness of God is the only thing that will bring justice to this world. You have this promise, one day God will satisfy your hunger.
Blessed are the merciful. Your life is full of compassion, kindness and humility. You forgive as quickly and completely as Jesus forgave you. Because you show mercy, you will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart. Your desire is to live a life free from sin. In order to serve God, You store His Word in your heart. Because of the purity of your heart, you will draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Blessed are the peacemakers. You have let the peace of God rule in your heart so you will be known as a child of God.
You are blessed when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This world is not your home. The people who are at home in this world will always hate God’s servants. In this world you will be abused and harassed. People will always report evil lies about you. However through it all you can find joy and great happiness because yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. You are truly blessed because great is your reward in Heaven.
There is this thing about God. He is very inconsiderate. Now I don’t say that He is unfair just that He is inconsiderate. God is right to be inconsiderate because His will and His ways are supreme. We can’t understand it but none the less it is true.
I say that God is inconsiderate because our plans, our hopes and our dreams take second place to His. He will have His way and sometimes we suffer broken hearts or bruised egos because our plans are not His plans and our ways are not His ways. We don’t understand it but we must trust Him. God is good and broken hearts or bruised egos are small things to suffer if we want to be in the center of His will.
Some people ask, “Is it safe to follow God”? And I answer “no, it’s not! This very inconsiderate God that I serve has said to His children, “Take up your cross, and follow me. The very idea of a cross speaks of danger. So, no, God is not safe, but safety is entirely overrated anyway.
I am glad that God is so inconsiderate. When God looks at me, He does not consider my unworthiness and He does not consider my sins and failures. When He looks at me, the only thing He considers is the righteous blood of Jesus that was shed to purchase my salvation. I am glad that an inconsiderate God has looked at me and said, come to me and I will give you eternal life. This I know, the eternal life that my inconsiderate God offers is greater than all my hopes and dreams.
Douglas & Deborah Huff From Down Where the Pavement Ends Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org
I saw this in a movie. A man thinks that he knows Batman’s true identity. He goes to the manager of Bruce Wayne’s company and says “Give me a million dollars or I will tell the world the truth about Batman.” In response to his demand he was told. Batman spends his nights beating up bad guys. All the criminals in this town are afraid of Batman. Now, you want to blackmail Batman? Good luck with that.
I tell this story because I was asked how I would respond to a person who is challenging God. A man whom I will call Mr. C is accusing God of committing crimes against humanity. He charges the Lord with malfeasance because of all the evil in the world. Referring to stories from the Old Testament he charges God with genocide. Now, Mr. C is demanding an apology from God and intends to hold Him accountable for His criminal actions.
Well, Mr. C, let’s think about this for a minute. God once drowned almost everyone in the world because their thoughts were evil. He dropped fire on Sodom and Gomorrah because they were perverted. Egypt was inflicted with ten plagues and their firstborn were killed because of idolatry. Later when some of the Israelites rebelled, He caused the earth to open up and swallow them. Throughout the years God has been known to inflict arrogant people with hideous diseases.
And now Mr. C you want to challenge God. You think you can hold Him accountable for what you perceive to be His crimes against humanity! Good luck with that.
Sovereign, that is what My God is. He is sovereign because He created all things, including you. Because He created all things, whatever He does is right. That makes Him righteous. There is no one like God, that makes Him holy. He hates sin, that makes Him a God of justice. People are His greatest treasure, so Jesus died on the cross for their salvation. This proves He is merciful.
The point that I want to make is this. Only a fool will challenge or reject God. In the Bible and throughout history many people have shook their fist at God, and He tolerated none of them. Listen, God is worthy of all honor, glory and praise. Mr. C if you still choose to challenge God, good luck. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I believe that laughter of children is sweet music and the love of a child can put a song in your heart. I believe that the sweat from hard work feels good and the reward of working hard is a good feeling. I believe that reading the Bible while the sun comes up is the best way to start the day. A cup of coffee while talking to God will make the day good to the last drop. The Bible tells us in Romans 15:13 “ The God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus said whoever believes in Him will never die and I know this to be true. I also am convinced that whoever does not believe in Jesus has never lived. Belief is a powerful thing. It can imprint on your life unending hope and it can erase from your life debilitating fear. Belief in the Savior has caused crippled men to walk, blind men to see and dead men to live. I believe that God is good and greatly to be praised. I will praise God in all things, good and bad.
God has promised that with a little faith, we can prayerfully move mountains. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, your prayers can bring healing to the sick, salvation to the lost and hope to the hopeless. This is true for all of us who believe in the power of Jesus our Savior. Sometimes in our human frailties, we struggle to believe this. But if we cry out to Jesus, He will help us in our unbelief.
I believe that my sins are great but God’s forgiveness is greater. I believe that when I fall my Jesus will be there to pick me up. In my weakness, I often stumble but I have this certain assurance that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I know that I am righteous, but only because of the shed blood of Jesus. So for this reason I have firmly planted my feet on the Rock of my salvation. This salvation is found only in Jesus Christ the Son of God. HE is the One in whom I believe.
This may seem strange to some of you, but I am a superhero fan. Especially Superman and Batman. It is entertaining and sometimes inspiring to see these noble characters with their courage and conviction rushing in to defeat the evil villains. Often as I listen to the news and hear of the evil in this world, I wish there really was a Superman who could fly in and crush the bad guys. When I hear of sickness and diseases in the world, I wish that a Bruce Wayne would invent the cure. Then Batman would deliver the antidote to the afflicted while riding on the wings of the wind.
Now I know that these superheroes are simple fictional characters. Superman will never save the day and Batman will never solve any riddles. However, I can see how most superheroes may have been inspired by Biblical stories. Throughout the Bible we read of many common men who were raised up by God to accomplish miraculous feats. For instance, think of Moses who divided waters and called down fire as he delivered his people to the promised land. Then with one of the greatest story endings of all time, he walks up to a mountain top to die in the presence of God.
When I watch a Super Hero movie the special effects are awesome, but they cannot match the powers of my God. In 2 Samuel 22, I read that when God’s children are attacked by His enemies the anger of God is stirred. Then the earth shakes and the foundations of Heaven tremble. His voice thunders from heaven and the lightning bolts fly like arrows from His bow. Look and you will see the clouds billowing out behind Him like a cloak of righteousness as he comes Riding on the Wings of the Wind.
As I continue to read this chapter, I find that God can still use common men in uncommon ways. When we place our feet on the Rock of His salvation, His strength and power will be ours. He will teach us how to be spiritual warriors and our prayers will fly like arrows from a bow. The Blood of Jesus will be the shield of our salvation. The Word of our Testimony will be the destruction of our enemy. Then one day this Greatest Story ever told will come to an end. The theme music of our Savior will sound like a trumpet. The sky will crack open and we will rise to meet The Lord while Riding on the Wings of the Wind.
Jesus asked His disciples this question, “Who do men say that I am?” His followers replied by telling Him about the many different opinions people had about Him. He then asked, “But who do you say that I am?” It was Peter, the bold one, who spoke up and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus told Peter, “Peter you are blessed, you know this because you listen to God and not man.”
From religion to religion today, there are many different opinions about who Jesus is. Unfortunately, this is also true inside most mainstream Christian churches. Whether in Baptist, Methodist or any other denomination, from pew to pew you will find that people have different thoughts about who Jesus is. This has come about because so many preachers are writing sermons to please men instead of delivering messages that are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The truth about Jesus is not found in the social and prosperity gospels that false prophets preach. The truth about Jesus was seen when He took a basin of water and washed the feet of His disciples. The truth about Jesus was revealed when they nailed Him to the cross and He said to the man with the hammer, “ I forgive you”. The truth about Jesus saturates an empty tomb because He is not there, He is risen and now He sits at the right hand of the Father. The ultimate truth about Jesus was given to us when we were commanded to “Take up your cross and follow Him.”
Who is Jesus to you? Do you know him as the only begotten Son of God. Do you recognize Him as the second person of the Holy Trinity? Do you believe that He is the only hope of salvation? Who is Jesus? He is the one who can take your addiction and toss it as far away as the East is from the west. He is the one who can wash away your sin, and then toss the dirty wash water into the sea of forgetfulness. He is the maker of all things, the Savior of all men and the giver of all life. That is who my Jesus is.
Joash was a King of the nation of Judah. His mentor and advisor was a priest named Jehoiada. For many years the King was a great leader. Because of the influence of Jehoiada he made wise decisions and his leadership was pleasing to God. For this reason the nation was blessed. But then, Jehoiada died.
With the death of his Godly mentor, Joash lost his mooring. He then surrounded himself with ungodly men who led him to make poor choices. These men influenced the King to turn from worshiping God. This led to great suffering in Judah. The first part of his reign was filled with greatness, the second part was marred with failure. Joash was a good man who listened to the advice of wicked people, for this reason he died in shame and disgrace.
A local college football team was often encouraged by their coach to “Finish the drill”.
The coach was telling them to stay focused on the goal. They had to stay strong, remain grounded in their training and finish what they started. King Joash was a good man who started strong. But he did not remain grounded in his faith and he did not finish the drill.
Years ago I was watching the World Series when the announcer made a profound statement. He said that the championship teams did not get to the top by practicing the doing of great things. These teams were great champions because they hit the field every day and practiced simple and fundamental baseball. Practice keeping both hands on the glove and the impossible over the shoulder catches will come.
In the Bible Jesus promised that we can do great things. However, He taught us to do the simple things. As children of God, the greatest trophy we can hope to receive is to hear Jesus say “Well done My good and faithful servant.” This will happen only if we stay focused on the fundamentals. We must read the Bible daily, pray constantly and surround ourselves with Godly people.
Remember, it does not matter where you started, it is where you finish that counts. So focus on God, be led by the Holy Spirit, put on the mind of Christ, and finish strong.