It ‘s good to hold you fall ining us for Word Alive. I ‘m Brenda Critchley and Dr Derek Stringer is back once more with a trade name new series called ‘Thorns ‘ .

Let me read some poetries from Paul ‘s 2nd missive to the Corinthians chapter 12 and the first 10 poetries. I think so that you ‘ll acquire the thought behind this series and its relevancy into our lives today.

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Second Corinthians 12 Begins:

“ I must travel on touting. Although there is nil to be gained, I will travel on to visions and disclosures from the Lord. I know a adult male in Christ who fourteen old ages ago was caught up to the 3rd Eden. Whether it was in the organic structure or out of the organic structure I do non know-God knows. And I know that this man-whether in the organic structure or apart from the organic structure I do non cognize, but God knows- was caught up to paradise. He heard unexpressible things, things that adult male is non permitted to state. I will tout about a adult male like that, but I will non tout about myself, except about my failings. Even if I should take to tout, I would non be a sap, because I would be talking the truth. But I refrain, so no-one will believe more of me than is warranted by what I do or state.

It goes on to state:

To maintain me from going conceited because of these surpassingly great disclosures, there was given me a irritant in my flesh, a courier of Satan, to torture me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it off from me. But he said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in failing. ” Therefore I will tout all the more lief about my failings, so that Christ ‘s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ ‘s interest, I delight in failings, in abuses, in adversities, in persecutions, in troubles. For when I am weak, so I am strong. ”

I ‘ll notice here and at that place with a Bible or a quote – But over to Derek Stringer to establish this edition of Word Alive.


Thank you Brenda.

Well – a adult male was losing his memory. He went to a physician and received this diagnosing: “ I ca n’t assist your memory without impairing your seeing. The pick is yours. Would you instead be able to see or to retrieve? ” The adult male thoughtfully replied, “ I would instead hold my seeing than my memory. I ‘d instead see where I am traveling than retrieve where I have been! ”

This narrative ( which is likely apocryphal ) reminds us of something we need to hear. At this present minute, our hereafter is more of import than our past. We have no claim on the past, but we do hold a claim on the hereafter. The yesteryear is closed ; the hereafter is yet unfastened for new possibilities.

Christian religion is about burying the failures and successes of the yesteryear. Learning from them – yes – but pressing on to the grade of our high naming in Christ.

Paul summed it up really neatly when composing to the Romans: “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overrun with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ” You see, Christianity is non about acquiring by but acquiring on. Populating in the flood of what God is making now.

And Paul modelled a individual who knew and grew in Christ. And as Paul tells his narrative he brings out a cardinal truth. It includes a ‘thorn ‘ every bit good as a ‘third Eden ‘ experience.

Imagine you are in a church service and the sermonizer is completing with an entreaty for people to come frontward for supplication. You ‘re believing – I need supplication, I ‘ll travel frontward. And so you think once more when he says this: “ All of you who want a 3rd heaven experience – semen to the right and we will pray that you have this astonishing 3rd heaven experience of God right now. ” And so he says, “ And all of you who would wish a irritant in the flesh experience, merely come to the left and we will pray that you get this atrocious thorn experience. ” Imagine that. It ‘s non hard to conceive of that the left side of the church will be empty of people. None of us want a thorn-like experience. We all want the great and celestial experience of God.

And yet Paul is traveling to state that he experienced more blessing through the irritant than he did the 3rd heaven experience. Why does Paul do such an amazing statement?

It ‘s because of what was go oning in the Corinthian church. Brenda – a word from you.


Well as church workss travel, Corinth went good. It had become the templet for other churches. Just as today, people would wish at it and believe, “ we could larn a thing or two about church approval and growing through that church. Let ‘s look into out what they ‘re making and see what we can borrow for our benefit. ”

But so there was a church battle. Corinth had issues sing life styles and human gender. It ‘s soothing to cognize but non encouraging. We might every bit good accept it happens but do certain that we are non portion of the job but portion of the solution in our church.

As portion of the church battle Paul ‘s leading manner was attacked. What are his certificates? What experience of God has he had that we should listen to him? I know he talks a batch about his transition experience on the route to Damascus, but that was old ages ago. What ‘s current in his life? ”


There was a film – ‘Catch Me If You Can ‘ . Frank was holding troubles at place. Surprisingly he gets to go a replacement instructor for a school Gallic Class even though he ‘s a immature individual with no makings. He pulls it off and so he went on to make other things. He became an air hose pilot have oning the uniform but non winging the planes. He becomes a medical physician even puting up a pattern but non practising. He becomes a attorney – but he ne’er had certificates for any of this.

Peoples in the Corinth Church were get downing to inquire, “ Why should we listen to Paul? What credentials has he?

Paul makes a unusual remark: “ I must travel on self-praise. ” Most of us were taught non to boast. So, we usually find covert ways of making it. Paul does n’t desire this church to acquire off path and lose out. So he says, “ Although there is nil to be gained, I will travel on to visions and disclosures from the Lord. ”

Paul if offering his defense mechanism to those who are inquiries his genuineness. And he refers to an experience from 14 old ages before. It ‘s interesting that there ‘s no mention to this in any other book. Clearly he did n’t desire to pull attending to this astonishing experience. It was forced out of him by the personal onslaught on his unity.

He ca n’t even convey himself to talk personally but speaks of cognizing a adult male who had this experience. It ‘s evidently him because it is he who is being undermined. It would barely be an reply to speak about another individual ‘s experience of God when he is the one being criticised.


“ I know a adult male in Christ who 14 old ages ago was caught up to the 3rd Eden. Whether it was in the organic structure or out of the organic structure I do non cognize, God knows. ”


We can merely think at what he means by a ‘third Eden ‘ . It was evidently something indefinable. How Paul approaches speaking about his experience has relevancy. Paul does n’t believe that everything we experience is to be shared. Like confidant inside informations of our matrimonial life, they are merely cheapened by exposure.

I think that we should be leery of people ever stating us of the astonishing penetrations that God has given them. As if to allow you cognize that they are particular. Listen to them. Reserve in such affairs is a grade of Paul ‘s existent spiritualty. Paul did n’t seek after a ‘third Eden ‘ brush. And clearly it was a rare experience. Unusual experiences may go on to us and that ‘s all right. But workss and words affair most.


St. John of the Cross was a great Christian mystic. He had a down to earth attack. I quote: “ All visions, disclosures, heavenly feelings, and whatever is greater than these, are non worth the least act of humbleness, being the fruits of that charity which neither values nor seeks itself, which thinks good non of ego, but of others. Many psyches to who visions have ne’er come, are uncomparably more advanced in the manner of flawlessness than others to whom many have been given. ”


At the bottom line Paul is stating, “ You ask about my certificates? I ‘ll give them to you. It ‘s my failing. It ‘s because I struggle but God uses me anyhow, that ‘s my certificate. In my failing God makes me strong. ”

When we are desiring to “ Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power ” – it is frequently through the tests of our religion. God has a manner of maturating us through the trials.

So, allow ‘s analyze the ‘thorns ‘ that we may hold. Let ‘s see how they can be used for our approval.

First: I want to set up the rule.


Paul says, “ I will tout all the more lief about my failings, so that Christ ‘s power may rest on me. ”


The rule is: God does non utilize us despite our failing but because of it.

Make you cognize what frustrates me? Peoples who say, “ With such ability think what you can make for God. ” We see an entertainer or athleticss star and believe how much they can be used by God. Poor God – he merely has people like me! Three times in 1 Playboies 1 we ‘re told that God intentionally chooses the weak. Why does God make this? So that there ‘s no room for pride in what we are making. Does this average people with pails of ability ca n’t be used by God? Yes it does – if we think it ‘s all down to us.

Paul himself is a great illustration. His narrative is told in Acts 9 – on the Damascus Road when Christ confronts him and his whole life is turned about. But it ‘s a great error to believe that the Damascus Road experience is what made Paul the effectual Christian that he was to go. ‘Saul ‘ became a Christian on the route to Damascus, but he did non go ‘Paul ‘ life in its comprehensiveness. We need to set the jig-saw mystifier together – the penetrations we have in Acts connected with what he himself tells us in his epistles peculiarly Galatians 1.

He came into Damascus blind for 3 yearss and Ananais was an older truster told by God to travel and curate to him and acquire him baptised.

Paul had all the basic equipment for life and instantly he wanted to state people. After a few yearss he needed to square what he now knew with what he had studied in Old Testament scriptures about the Messiah. So, he went to Arabia, surveies, prayed and listened to the Lord instructing him for 3 old ages.

He comes back to Damascus from Arabia confident that he can turn out that Jesus truly is the Messiah – the 1 predicted throughout the Old Testament – the 1 who is the Saviour and Lord. And he is unbeatable in argument – but I want you to detect this – He wins the statements but ne’er wins a psyche. His enemies now want him dead and the trusters need to acquire him out of Damascus in a basket over the wall. The astonishing thing is that old ages subsequently he wrote to a church and said this: “ You ask me to tout about the most of import event in my life? I ‘ll state you. It ‘s when I became a basket instance! Literally! ” Now, why would he state that? Because he had come to larn this cardinal rule. God did n’t necessitate his ability merely his handiness.


We must larn the truth Jesus taught to His adherents merely before His ain decease: “ Without me you can make nil. ”


In other words, whatever you try to make without me will amount to nil! And through his experience Paul ‘s pride began to decease. Yet it died hard. He went to Jerusalem and he was still determined to state them that Jesus is the Messiah they have been waiting for. Even the adherents had nil to make with him. That is until Barnabas vouched for him and said we do n’t necessitate to be scared of him now – he ‘s on our side.

Galatians tells us he stayed merely 15 yearss in Jerusalem. And they were high energy yearss as he tried difficult to change over people. It had the same consequence as in Damascus. He won the statements but non the people. Well – he was sent off to Tarsus, his place town. We so read at the terminal of Acts 9 that the church experienced peace and growing and grew. It was when they got rid of Paul that the church grew non when he was at that place. If we think we are indispensible go stick a manus in a bucket of H2O, take it out and see what hole is left!


Charles Swindoll tells the narrative in one of his books about his feverish life style in functioning the Lord. He had come to a point where he felt he was necessary for the church to maintain turning. Early one forenoon he walked into his church office – he was as usual geting earlier than anyone else. He was stopped in his paths. In his office was a casket. On it was a big frames photo – and it was his image! It was his staff ‘s manner of stating, “ If you keep up this gait this is where you will stop up! ” In Charles Swindoll ‘s honest manner of composing – he said it was a message he needed to mind – and it was dramatically coming across to him. The church does non all depend upon me and what I do.


And immature avid Saul was a barrier to the advancement of the Gospel. The rule for approval is nil coming from me and everything coming from God. For 7 to possibly 10 old ages nil is heard of Saul. He was larning what God tries to learn us. Our failing has ne’er been a job merely our strength. All God needs is us the manner we are available to Him for whatever He wants. We must be willing to state, “ Lord, I ‘m non traveling to state you what you can and can non make. I ‘m merely doing myself available. ”

The life of an eager Christian seeking to populate the Christian life turns people off. Our efficiency without God ‘s sufficiency leads to lack.

After old ages at place Paul is believing and praying all of this through. There comes a religious waking up at ‘Antioch ‘ and they need a Bible Teacher. Barnabas is certain that Paul is the adult male for the minute. God knew where Paul was in Damascus but Barnabas did n’t. It took some clip to happen him. He explained what was go oning in Antioch: “ They ‘ve called us Christians in that town. We need learning, will you come? ” It ‘s a different Saul who goes into ministry now. He is no longer full of himself but is determined to cognize nil but Christ and proclaim Him in a simple straightforward manner.

After awhile the Spirit directs the church at Antioch to let go of Barnabas and Paul into a wider missional ministry. They go to Cyprus. And it ‘s here that we get Paul ‘s first miracle. The proconsul, Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas was his favored astrologist. He tried to turn the proconsul from the religion.


Then Saul, who was besides called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked directly at Elymas and said, “ The manus of the Lord is against you. You are traveling to be blind, and for a clip you will be unable to see the visible radiation of the Sun. ”


What had happened to him on the Damascus route happens to this adult male. Blindness so that he will truly see what affairs. The proconsul believed, he was amazed at the instruction of the Lord. The consequence is Saul ‘s name is changed to this heathens name – Paulus – Paul! ‘Paul ‘ means ‘small ‘ . Now he has become little plenty for God to utilize him. God did n’t desire him as an apostle to the Jews but to the Gentiles. He learned the indispensable for Christian effectivity: ‘I ca n’t! Christ can! ‘ I ca n’t populate this Christian life – He can in and through me as I become a channel for Him.

The rule is clear: God chooses the weak.

Which brings us to the intent of a irritant.

Why are thorns ‘given ‘ ? We do n’t cognize what Paul ‘s was. It was in the ‘flesh ‘ which likely means something physical. The word image is of a large wooden interest driven through our flesh.

And detect his irritant was at the same time from Satan and from God.

Do n’t travel through life seeking to insulate at events as being from God or being from Satan. Christ ‘s decease was from both. It was predicted and portion of what God intended for our redemption. And yet it was satanically divine. He entered into Judas ‘ bosom you remember. I ‘m glad Paul does n’t state us what his ‘thorn ‘ is – so it fits for us all whatever our ‘thorn ‘ is.

Our ‘thorn ‘ may be a physical job. Possibly tough fortunes. May be a dead-end occupation, a money crisis, a religious or a relational job. The opportunities are we ‘ve been wrestling with it for a long clip. Remember that three times Paul asked God to present him. I do n’t believe that was three short supplications in speedy sequence. These would be prolonged times of supplication.

Sometimes we try to hide the ‘thorn ‘ . But it ‘s a spot like a beach ball. You push it down but it merely surfaces. Sometimes we try to pull off our ‘thorn ‘ with intoxicant, shopping or cocoa. Anything that gives us some alleviation. Life is full of annoyances but a ‘thorn ‘ is more specific.

So why does God let them?

‘Thorns ‘ stop us from believing excessively extremely of ourselves. When life is smooth we can acquire full of ourselves and so there is no infinite in our lives for seeing what God might desire to make. We do n’t necessitate Him!

There was a Golf Classic in America. Now, golf is n’t truly my game but I do cognize this much. Professional golf players play a unit of ammunition on a Thursday and Friday trusting to do the ‘cut ‘ for the staying twosome of yearss – Saturday and Sunday. That ‘s where the large award money is to be made. So – the large competition is to do the ‘cut ‘ . In this peculiar competition held in New Orleans, one golf player was reasonably certain that this clip he was non traveling to do the ‘cut ‘ – he had n’t played that good. So, he got on his private jet and flew place to Orlando, Florida. Arriving place he decided to look into the consequences and realised that there was a strong possibility that he would do the ‘cut ‘ after all! So make you cognize what he did? He flew his private jet back to New Orleans. Great if you ‘re rich! Another golf player in the competition flies by commercial air hoses. Arriving place he excessively discovered he was likely traveling to be called to play on the Saturday and Sunday. He needed to acquire back to New Orleans. However, he was excessively late for a direct flight. So, he picked the nearest metropolis. He arrived at midnight and rented a auto. He drove all the manner geting at 6 in the forenoon. He ‘s in cut off denims and a Tee-shirt. You ca n’t play looking like that – so he borrowed apparels. He had no nines so he needed to lease some. They were 2 old ages old! That sounds reasonably immature to me but I gather that ‘s non good when you ‘re a professional golf player. Make you cognize what happened? He was among the best tonss and won a good amount of money!

Life can hold some surprising turn-a-rounds.

Paul is stating, “ The amusing thing about this unfunny irritant in the flesh is that it teaches me to depend on God. ” Paul ‘s ‘thorn ‘ directed him to a higher power, “ The grace of God in Jesus Christ. ” It stopped him from being conceited at the astonishing disclosures God had given to him.


Tim Hansel is a author. Old ages ago he had a climbing accident and he ‘s been in hurting of all time since. Born out of his experience he made this statement: “ God will increase our insufficiency to increase our dependence.


Let that drop in – God will increase our insufficiency – and why? – to increase our dependence.

And because of Paul ‘s thorn other people stopped believing excessively extremely of him.

Surveies made of successful people have clearly revealed what leads to the ruin of some. They did n’t hold people who would state them the truth. They believed their ain promotion and felt above things.

No-one could state of Paul, “ He ‘s got his act together. You can see why he ‘s successful and of usage to God. ” Paul needed for people to see his failings so that we would gain where his sufficiency came from.

So – we ‘ve established the rule – God uses the weak non the strong.

We ‘ve examined the purpose – so that amour propre does n’t destroy us.

Now let ‘s research the possibilities.

And there ‘s the possibility of triumph in inauspicious fortunes.


Paul delighted “ In failing, in abuses, in adversities, in persecution, in troubles. ”


That does n’t intend that if we are ill we shout ‘Hallelujah, praise the Lord. ” But tests can be used to beef up us.

Has anyone said to you, “ God will non give you more than you can bare? ” That ‘s non true. He surely wo n’t give you temptation beyond what you can bare But He will give you more than you can bare – but non more than he can bare as he bares you.

We have a pick to do when tough times come. We can acquire acrimonious or acquire better. Agony is inevitable but wretchedness is optional. Here ‘s a extremist idea. Suffering really gives us the confidence that God loves us. Is n’t that astonishing? Many people are prone to doubt God ‘s love when problem comes. But God loves us excessively much to present us from all our battles.

A few old ages ago, churches in England went through a craze of taking popular secular vocals, altering the words and singing them in church. Simon and Garfunkle ‘s ‘Bridge Over Troubles Waters ‘ was given the intervention:

“ When you ‘re weary ; experiencing little ;

When cryings are in your eyes, He will dry them all.

He ‘s on your side ;

Oh, when times get unsmooth, and hurting is all so true,

Like a span over troubled Waterss,

He ‘ll transport you.

I ‘m glad we do n’t sing vocals like that now. Because I ‘ve learned that Jesus is n’t a span over troubled Waterss – He is the tract through troubled Waterss. He does n’t maintain us from the howling river of hardship ; alternatively, He takes us right through the center of it.

Sometimes we do n’t swear until we have to. And God will drive us to adulthood. Our fortunes may non alter but we can. God can utilize them to alter us. There are qualities we learn by agencies of enduring and no other manner. What we can cognize for certain is that God ‘s resources are more than adequate.

Another possibility in inauspicious fortunes is that a door of utility is unfastened to us.

One adult male ironically said, “ I use to worry about my lower status composite until I realised I was merely apparent inferior. ” Everyone has an lower status composite, it ‘s merely that some people are better at covering it up than others.

Many people say, “ I ca n’t speak about my religion. I ca n’t happen the words. I do n’t cognize what to state. ” You are merely the sort of individual God wants.

D. L. Moody was the ‘Billy Graham ‘ of his twenty-four hours. On his first prophesying circuit of the United Kingdom he clearly showed his failing – particularly in his deficiency of proper English grammar. He began one discourse by smiling and stating to the Cambridge university pupils, “ Now you immature gentlemen, do n’t you believe that God do n’t love you because God ‘e do. ” A newspaper newsman commented, “ Mr Moody butchers the King ‘s English. ” And he did! He went on to compose, “ I see nil in Mr Moody to account for his success. ” When Moody read that he rejoiced. He knew that there was nil in Him but there was plentifulness in God who worked through him.

And because God uses the weak there is an unfastened door for us all.

And the power of Christ is available to us all.

Paul did n’t pray three times and acquire no reply. There is a difference between praying and acquiring no reply and praying and acquiring the reply no. Even Jesus prayed, “ Take this cup from me. ” And got the reply no.

Thank goodness God sometimes says ‘No ‘ . I ca n’t swear myself. I do n’t desire to pray once more if I am ever traveling to acquire what I want. I do n’t ever cognize what is best.

Corrie 10 Boon is a good known figure in Christian circles. There are books and plays about her life. The awful clip that she had in a Nazi concentration cantonment. The decease of her sister Betsy at the cantonment. Her endurance and coming to footings with run intoing a guard who had been so barbarous in the cantonment. The guard asked for her forgiveness. It ‘s a powerful narrative. Corrie died good into her 1890ss. She wrote books which became popular around the universe. Back in the yearss when the Communists ruled huge Aress of Eastern Europe and beyond, her books were being translated and assisting a batch of people in hard times for Christians. Corrie heard of an old adult female who was interpreting her books in a Communist state. She wanted to see with her and thank her for the hazards she was taking. She discovered that the functionaries paid no attending to her because she was old and crippled up. The lone thing that she had control over was the usage of one finger, that ‘s all. Her hubby carried her to the authorship desk and propped her up with pillows. There she would utilize an old type-writer as she translated Corrie ‘s books. She typed with one finger. Corrie has a chapter in one of her books with the rubric: One Finger For God. This adult female had a large irritant. Jesus took it up and strongly used it for good.

Well – we ‘ve established the rule: God uses the weak things off this universe.

We ‘ve examined the intent: God allows ‘thorns ‘ for good grounds.

We ‘ve explored the possibilities: whatever happens it can be used strongly.

Now – Lashkar-e-Taiba ‘s enter into the proviso.

God said to Paul, “ My grace is sufficient for you. ” Do you see the of import word? It ‘s that small word ‘Is ‘ . I believe in the ace of IS. ‘My grace IS sufficient for you. ”

What does that intend?

When we get into a topographic point of failing ne’er plead for power to acquire you through. Just reckon on the power that has been made available in you through the presence of Christ in your life.

And here ‘s what I think is a helpful penetration in this respect. There is a immense difference between developing to make something and seeking to make it. Peoples say, “ If at first you do n’t win attempt and seek once more. ” No! If you require more forbearance, more joy, more love, more self-denial it ‘s a fruit of Christ ‘s presence in your life. He has all the forbearance every bit good as all the wisdom and all the strength. Our function is merely to confirm it and allow Him be through us what He wants. Christianity is n’t seeking harder it ‘s developing sagely. Paul wrote, “ Train yourself in godliness. ” Knowing the difference between preparation and seeking is the key for populating the Christian life. Not seeking to run and win at Christianity but preparation by conveying our head and bosom to think upon the resource that we already have in Christ.

A adult male talked with his curate. He said, “ I am 30 lbs fleshy and necessitate some motive to make something about it, can you assist me out. ” His curate said, “ Be ready at 7 tomorrow forenoon for a tally. ” The adult male gulped, but thought he would give it a spell. At 7 prompt the door bell rang. He opened the door and standing ready in running cogwheel was a bead dead gorgeous bluish eyed blond immature adult female. She greeted him with a smiling and said, “ Hi, the curate has said that you can day of the month me if you can catch me. ” And off she ran! – With him in hot chase. Well this happened daily until the flab was get downing to drop off of him and he got to believe, “ I think I ‘ll catch her tomorrow and acquire that day of the month. ” The following twenty-four hours the door bell rang and he was ready. He opened the door broad – and standing ready for a tally was a lady 30 lbs fleshy. She smiled and said, ‘Hi, the curate has said that I can day of the month you if I can catch you ” – and off he ran!

Now – my point in stating you that is this. He did n’t seek to lose the weight he trained to lose it. And the potency of a healthy organic structure inside him had the chance to come out. That ‘s how we live the Christian life. Not by seeking to be something for God. Trusting God to be it through us.

God ‘s inquiry is, “ How much will this individual allow me be who I want to be through them? ” God says that His grace is equal. That is the greatest understatement in Bible! It truly is equal for all our demands.

Merely enter into God ‘s commissariats by stating thank you for all he is and will be and make through us.


Derek Stringer has been our featured talker here on Word Alive today! We really much appreciate our contact with you so do delight do contact.

To make us merely travel to the Good News Broadcasting Association web site or utilize our free reply phone.

Dr Stringer will be back once more with another message in this series titled ‘Thorns ‘ . I hope that you ‘ll be after to fall in us. Until so, on behalf of the Good News Broadcasting Association squad – adieu and God bless you.

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