Grace is Enough – 6-23-22

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Second Corinthians chapter 12 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Vision of Paradise

12 It is [a]doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.

The Thorn in the Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to [b]buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Signs of an Apostle

11 I have become a fool [c]in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Love for the Church

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?

19 Again, [d]do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. 20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:1 NU necessary, though not profitable, to boast
  2. 2 Corinthians 12:7 beat
  3. 2 Corinthians 12:11 NU omits in boasting
  4. 2 Corinthians 12:19 NU You have been thinking for a long time that we

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12-

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Yesterday Paul was pretty fired up and sarcastic! The last verse it Paul recounting his very first escape. It almost seems like we are about to do through Paul’s life and the book of Acts in detail after that verse, just so Paul can make a point.

But Paul stops himself. There is no profit, nothing to gain by going down this path – these people will not understand this line of reasoning.

1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:”

Paul’s list of sufferings was NOT a lists of suffering – if that is what we heard, we read it wrong. IT WAS A LIST OF GOD’S GLORY! God saved Paul in a basket in Damascus, God saved Paul in shipwreck, God saved Paul time and time again. But, out friends in Corinth are looking for a bigger wow than Paul’s life. And I am sure Paul could brag on much bigger miracles, giving God the glory. However, the power of God through Paul is more easily confused then the Power of God imposed upon Paul. Did you follow that?
If Paul lays hands on the blind and they see – that is God through Paul and easier for people to give Paul the credit and not God. Or worse, Paul may slip and say I healed the blind. It doesn’t matter if it is people or Paul (person being used by God) who robs God of His glory, God is still mad. This is not just me hung up on this idea. GOD is hung up on this idea. The second he is robbed of even a sliver of His Glory, God will remove His hand. The hard part, for us, is the gifts remain, so people and we, may see the gifts and miss that the person is no longer anointed.
So when we, like Paul, are giving an account of the power of God in our lives – ‘God through us’ is just not as powerful a testimony.

Now, the trials and hard parts and those moment God saved us – that is ‘God imposing himself upon us’. Can’t say Paul rescued himself in a basket. It had to be a big enough basket to fit a grown man. There was a hunt for him. No humanly way could Paul NOT get caught – it is GOD. All God. Same with the shipwrecks. Same with all His infirmities.

So Paul is trying to boast solely on God. So He gives this example:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

Go ahead and closes your eyes and listen. I hear the quiet buzz of my computer fan and the water in the fish tank trickling – but not that. Imagine the noise of heaven. It is a noisy place. Everything there is glorifying God. God is not an egomaniac requiring everything to worship him, He is just so good, so perfect, so much love that all of creation cannot help it. Except for humans because we were separated by sin and cannot see it or hear it. The Bible often says to shout to the Lord, we can understand why, because it’s noisy there.
In Acts 2, use the spirit coming sounded like a rushing mighty wind – rushing winds are noisy. Tornados and hurricanes sound like trains with their horns blasting. And to my amazement God also heard our quiet prayers, our silent tears, and our aching hearts – and speaks to us in a still small voice.
This is the kind of GOD GETS THE GLORY scene Paul knows will make these Corinthians thrilled. No man can get the glory from this. (Although in our modern world some men have tried.)

Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.”

Paul will not risk them getting it wrong, and taking glory from God.
And this really hits home – hits with the truth of humility. Paul brags on God not on anything he has touched. And these Corinthians are accusing Paul of being less than a bunch of wanna be miracle men.
Everyone wants the power of God to surge through them – how cool is that?! Of course we want that. But we do not want the foodless season, the money less season, the learning to be completely reliant on God season – or the shipwrecks. No, no one wants the tribulations that build the character that keeps you from robbing God of His glory and moving responsibly in the gifts.
Paul’s resume never exulted himself and so they missed out on who Paul was. You and I have 2000 years to know, this man was a powerhouse in the kingdom – his ministry spread through Europe and impacted the values nations were built on. And even today we open our Bibles and submit to Paul’s teachings. You and I would love a time machine to go back in time to shake his hand. And Paul would be violently ill over the idea that he was ever sainted by a denomination or that we hold him up with esteem enough to still read his letters, memorize them and learn about our God through them.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”

And Paul knew there was a level of anointing, unlike most, upon him – and therefore a temptation to boast in Himself being chosen for this or that it happens through him or some other door for pride to slip in.
So God gave Paul a thorn in his flesh – to keep him humble. Some say it was the constant chase – where he was hunted down to be killed for his entire ministry. Others say it was a physical infirmary. Whatever it was – Paul was NOT boasting it in either. So much so, that we do not really know what he is speaking of.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

A few verses ago I was tempted to pray that we can learn this kind of humility – the more humble the closer to God you are and no one can convince me otherwise. We all want to obtain a strong meekness and humility – that would be so cool. But if we were that humble no one would recognize who we are in the kingdom of God – like they failed to understand who Paul was. They thought some of those “Great Preachers” of their time who came and took their money were going to be remembered for all of time and we do not know any of their names. But we know Paul.
We thought we wanted to be the cool, misunderstood one, like Paul – But this thorn to keep him humble was so bothersome, he prayed for it to be removed and God said no. Can we have this humility without a thorn? No one wants a thorn

Wait – no…. some people do. But they took this out of context. Because some have suspected the thorn to be some illness or ailment that was never healed. Being f course the ONE AND ONLY (that I can think of) time someone asked for healing and was NOT healed.
I know people who have been praying for healing for 40 years or more and have no received it. They battled attacks on their faith, blamed the people praying for them, blamed themselves, struggled in their belief system, and maybe even blamed God – until some have surrendered and decided it must be a thorn like Paul’s. Ironically, they are also no humble like Paul – so their thorn, doesn’t even work. Also, the anointing and power of God is not surging through them, either. I might have to conclude from this evidence that IT ISN’T a thorn. Maybe they need to go back to those healing verses again and fight that demon till it is finally gone.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

GRACE – stop believing it is just God’s favor that we did not deserve – because that is such a weak definition of a dynamic transformative POWERFUL thing, like grace. Grace is actionable and its action is to transform.
So stop reading it like (use a wimpy sounding complacent voice): God’s favor is enough for me. I am stuck with a torn but I am in God’s favor. So yay God, you gave me one more thing on top of everything else.
And start reading it like (use a voice that is sure of what it knows): God’ transformative actions are enough! Weakness in me doesn’t matter because this live changing power to turn that weakness into MIGHT is perfected in the struggle of being changed. My trials, infirmities and struggles prove I am no one – and the OUT COMES of the transformation PROOVES HE IS A POWERFUL, RISEN, MIGHTY, LIVING GOD – worthy of all glory, worship, praise and thanksgiving!

Grace is not a sweet word – it is a powerful kind of…, messy kind of…, growing kind of…, changing kind of…, altering kind of…, breaking of a pot on the potter’s wheel and rebuilding kind of… transformative action.  

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

And here Paul defines what his ‘infirmities’ are – the catalysts to grace or transformation. Yes, grace mixed with these causes character building, personality changing, and hopefully as we lean heavily on God in ALL humility – it makes us more Christ-like.

11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!”

I LOVE THAT PAUL IS HUMAN! And it shows. We know he stopped mid boast and started to tell you of outside miracles and then explained why he cannot boast on himself – carefully dancing around looking for the right words to use so that God gets the glory.
Paul points out his own foolishness for even being baited into an argument of his credentials in God. In all truth – their existence is his credentials and they witnessed (saw with their own eyes) the signs and wonders. And the ONLY accusation they are correct in is that Paul never took money for his services. So he apologizes for it (more of his sarcasm).

Here is something that never occurred to me before. These people forgot about the signs and wonders they witnessed themselves and the grace that saved them. They were blinded by the fancy resumes of these false teachers. The Israelites were being led in the wilderness by a floating flame at night and a magical cloud by day – and seem to have forgotten that literally blazing miracle right in front of them while collecting magical food that landed on their front lawns every morning – and they began to complain. Humans are stupid – we forget things so quick. I wonder why God loves us so much – but I am so grateful He does.

Those of you who know me or have followed along long enough, know I am not a prophet chaser. There are ample revelation in the word of God. Yes, I sometimes have dreams. Yes, God tells me things about things. ALL of which can be confirmed in the word and seconded by history. Some prophecy is simply understanding what God is saying now and the patterns of this world history and scriptures, to know what will happen next.  So, I am seldom impressed by prophetic ministries. I seek God to tell me, not man. Now, God does appoint prophets and it is good. AND I am not saying you should not follow them and heed to godly wisdom from them and be blessed by the signs and wonders.
However, satan appoints sorcerers too, and puts them in the camps of the righteous who are blinded by bold and fancy words and someone speaking what they want to hear.  They are Balaam, sent to curse the righteous and their donkey talks. Be warry. Paul warns of these and we forget when dazzled. Jesus said there will be many in these last days. Be ever so careful.

God led me to a man’s ministry in early 2020 – and I have watched it grow and change. You know what I hate? He always is “releasing a prophetic word”! It is dramatic and get followers – but it is nonsense. He is preaching the word, true to the word and the word has anointing. He has fantastic experiences and dreams that God uses to help him understand the word in context and he uses those examples to teach. Yes, there is an element of prophetic – but I just about turn him off every time he says “Release a prophetic word”. It has grown into a sound ministry. I pray for them and bless them (as he now has a full team). I have tested, and he is anointed and not a false prophet.

On the other hand – a pastor friend told me to check out a prophetic ministry and sent me a link. So I open the link to the… thing… show? Whatever it was. And there is this man speaking boldly and saying things I really liked. Within seconds my spirit was so stirred and I was praying in tongues out loud and pointing my hand at the computer screen! I prayed so loud and fervently that I was telling myself to quiet down so I could hear. But of course – God can tell me, so I flowed with the spirit and prayed till the end. I had seen this self-proclaimed prophet before in an interview on another show and one other time he was in a clip of something else – and all three times my spirit was stirred into fervent prayer!
The man told of certain events happening in the world AND they were happening in a temple near the Biblical city of Corinth! So the geek in me began researching. He found out somehow – So I can too. It must be out there somewhere. I looked for a few days. I was unable to get this man and the good things he said (that I heard) out of my head. I was oddly drawn to him – while at the same time, I was unable to go back to the link or search for him to hear more. I began praying and researching him the person and not his ministry or what he was saying. I researched what people are witnessing and saying about him as well. I looked at pictures of him and looked at body language and people placement and such. But I did not listen to him again. I came to a shocking conclusion: He spoke of things that were lies or cannot be verified – and if they are true, he can only know because the devil told him. My spirit was not stirred to pray because this man was anointed and powerful – but because my spirit joined the fight against him. I too almost fell for a false prophet. It is so easy to do. Be diligent! God will take care of him – but do not fall for it. I can see why you would, but do not forget what Paul says and Jesus says about these demons disguised in light. I know this was a lengthy side note – but vital to say, especially in a day like this with many deceiving the saints!
Men of God can say things that annoy you, but that doesn’t change the very real call of God on their lives and their anointed message. Other may impress you and cause your spirit to stir – but it may be stirring for a fight and not because there is an anointing. May your eye be open to see the darkness looming around the evil ones! In the name of JESUS! ~amen

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”

Back to our reading and study for today. If you thought I was stretching it saying Paul loves this church like a parent loves a child – well, Paul says it. Right here. And even though he said sorry (sarcastically) for not taking money from them – he says he still will not take money from them. AND as every parent of a teen has experienced – the more he shows then love the less they reciprocate.

16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning!”

This verse makes me laugh! Paul is being such a good dad to a wild teen. He is so tender, hurt, and loving – and yet he is crafty! Laughing! He caught them! Ok, SO Paul is now explaining that he doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head – God always provides a cunning and crafty means to let Paul know that the Corinthians are misbehaving! This word cunning is not a negative manipulative connotation like we associate it with. He is just revealing how he caught them. God does not condone us scheming and manipulating to get things or information.

17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?”

In other words – Titus came to you the same way Paul came to you preaching Jesus and not taking money. Earlier in this book he pointed out that they treated him well and Titus gave a good report of them – so was it Titus who told Paul of them misbehaving? And is that what Paul is addressing here since the verse above speaks of Paul finding out things.
It is only with careful study that we can understand, as Paul has become unhealthily sensitive to the overly critical and ungenerous Corinthians. At first glance it seems he is repeating 2 Corinthians 8:20-24. And how he came to them for their good and how they never embarrassed or spoke bad of them… But this time seems in defense of Titus and ‘Our Brother’ (Who probably went unnamed because he probable had the job of bringing this letter to them). Paul is saying they were not sent as spies. In other words: “God will reveal to me what you all are up to whether Titus and Bro tell me or not.” Paul does not want them slandering and attacking Titus and Bro the way they attacked Paul.

19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.”

Let’s stop being distracted and pointing the fingers – the point is Paul, Titus and the Bro must answer to God for what they say and NOT to these people in Corinth. Some think their pastor’s and preacher much entertain them and answer to them about why and how they preach. They owe us no explanation or tenderness, as Paul has tried to offer – the truth is, they answer to God.  

20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.”

Paul is trying to save them from themselves – Paul is being hard on them, so you and I think they have done something really bad and some of it is cruel in some ways – but Paul sees his kids get on the other side of the fence at the Grand Canyon and is afraid they will slide over the edge. And the canyon is contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults, uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness.
In other words – Hey you are on the wrong path and that path will lead to worse things! The criticism, accusations, and divisions are bad enough – BUT STOP BEFORE YOU BECOME THE WORLD!

God’s grace will transform us for the good. Or we can get hung up on being critical and miss out – slowly sliding backwards. Be humble enough to be a good daily repenter. Repent means to turn away from and if you are growing in the Lord, then he is always showing you more you can turn away from.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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