CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE THIS?

I. Grace Is Sufficient

II. Weakness Becomes Strength


2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a

messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to

take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for

my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more

gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is

why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in

persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who is sufficient enough and strong enough to save

us, dear Christian friends,

It sure is difficult to know whom or what to believe these days. One doctor says

that a certain medicine will work for a cure to what ails you; another doctor says that

one won’t, but another medicine will! One newscaster reports the nation thinks like

this; another newscaster reports the nation thinks like that. One televangelist says God

wants you to be happy no matter what; another says if you are not happy, it means your

faith is not strong enough.

Whom or what are we to believe these days? As definitions are uncovered

today, can we believe that blessings are cursed and curses are blessed? Can we believe

what Jesus told us in today’s Gospel: “blessed are you who are poor...who hunger

now...who weep now...when men hate you, exclude you, insult you and reject your

name as evil” and “woe to you who are rich...are well fed now...laugh now...when all

men speak well of you”?

CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE THIS? Can we really believe what is before us in this

lesson today? I. Grace is sufficient and II. Weakness becomes strength.

When doctors give conflicting answers about medicine, maybe it is based on

their education, the guidance of their administration or the push of the company who

manufactures the product. When newscasters present their information, it might be

based on their own or their network’s political leanings. When televangelists present their message, it might be without consulting what God has to say or to appease what

itching ears want to hear.

When it comes to the definitions uncovered today, these are revealed by Jesus.

These are based on his education, which is second to none, in that, as true God, he has

perfect wisdom and knowledge. His definitions come directly from his administration—

his heavenly Father whom he serves fully and who does not lie (Nu 23:19). Jesus’

definitions are not swayed by a manufacturer’s influence, nor does he have political

leanings. Jesus’ definitions are not watered down or amended due to political

correctness or based on the whims of the current cultural climate.

So, can we really believe what Jesus has to say? Absolutely! Without a doubt!

100%! He is himself God and he does not and can not lie. He has earned our trust by

never failing us and by securing for us our forgiveness and salvation.

This is what Paul came to realize when he was suffering with his thorn in the

flesh. We don’t know what it was. Some have said it was poor eyesight (based on Gal

4:15) or another physical ailment. Others guess it was a spiritual harassment or some

persecution. Whatever it was, it was bothersome and worthy of repeated prayer to ask

God to take it away.

Paul makes it clear that he knew it was a result of sin, as he calls it a messenger

of Satan, to torment him. But he also knew God was in charge of it. He didn’t plead

with Satan to take it away; he pleaded with the Lord.

Paul turned to the Lord in prayer three times. Obviously, God did not answer

the first two times— at least not in the way Paul wanted— that is, to take the thorn in

the flesh away from him. In keeping with God’s instruction that we pray persistently,

Paul tries again and the third time receives an answer.

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made

perfect in weakness.” What an answer! Maybe it was accompanied by a bright light

like happened at Paul’s conversion or maybe it was told him quietly in a dream, but in

whatever way, God made it clear to Paul that his grace was sufficient.

To re-word that, God’s undeserved love in Christ Jesus was enough. What God

did for us and for all through Jesus shows his love will go to the nth degree! Whatever

pain was caused by Paul’s thorn in his flesh, God would see him through it. Whatever

persecution Paul might face in the future, God’s protecting arms would surround him.

Whatever temptation Satan would place before Paul, God would provide strength to

overcome and forgiveness if Paul failed and sinned.

Could Paul really believe this? If he focused on his pain, he wouldn’t. If he

fixated on his thorn in the flesh, he would have concluded that God had let him down

and instead of grace, God was giving him grief.

Can we really believe this? Yes, God’s grace is sufficient for us, too! But, if we

focus on our illnesses and injuries, we will doubt and deny God’s promise.

Have you ever heard someone say, “God must be punishing me by giving me this

illness?” Have you yourself ever said or thought this? This thought comes from a sinful

misunderstanding of who God is and what God does. God punished Jesus in our place

for our sins. While we might suffer repercussions because of our sins, while we may

have certain maladies God allows to keep us humble or to test our faith, these are not

punishments from God, nor does God remove his promise that his grace is sufficient.

For every sickness, there is a cure. Through how many colds, contusions, cuts, or

COVID diagnoses in your life or in the lives of your loved ones has God brought his grace

and healed you? And when there is no earthly cure? God’s grace is sufficient to give

you the sure and confident hope of heaven and will soon usher you there.

Could Paul really believe God’s grace is sufficient? If he let his city/culture

convince him, he wouldn’t. If he let the unbelieving voices of his world speak more

loudly and more clearly than God’s promises, then he would not have trusted God.

Can we really believe God’s grace is sufficient? Absolutely! But, if we let the

voices of the unbelieving world around us speak more loudly and clearly than God, we

won’t trust God.

What are we listening to these days? I know a few people who watch way too

many news broadcasts and are influenced by the negativity or one-sidedness. I know

some who have been misled by a misguided TV preacher or a deceitful Internet

messenger.

Listen to Jesus! See what lengths he went to to set you free from your sins—

coming down from the heights of heaven to live under the law here, going to the depths

of hell by his death on the cross and to announce his victory over Satan and opening

wide the door of his grave to confirm he is the conquering Christ! Hear his promises of

love, forgiveness and salvation, which only he is able to keep!

Did Paul believe God? Yes, as his very own God-inspired words confirm.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power

may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in

hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul knew the purpose of his thorn in the flesh and his other difficulties. He

knew his weakness meant strength because he would have to rely on Christ and not his

own goodness to get through hardships and to get to heaven.

Let’s make sure our words match what we believe, too. Let’s boast about Jesus

and his sacrifice which brought us salvation. Let’s speak about our trials and tribulations

as weaknesses that make us strong because they force us to rely on Jesus, not

ourselves.

In a world where it is difficult to figure out whom or what to believe, on a day of

worship when definitions are uncovered and we learn blessings are cursed and curses

are blessed, it is so important to believe what is said by our Savior God: his grace is

sufficient for us!

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