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Thursday, June 13, 2019

2019.06.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Questions for Littles: What does the apostle say is not profitable (2 Corinthians 12:1)? Whom does he say he knows (2 Corinthians 12:2)? To where was this man caught up? What is not even known about his trip (2 Corinthians 12:3)? What kind of place was it (2 Corinthians 12:4)? What kinds of things were said there? Of whom would the apostle boast (2 Corinthians 12:5)? Of whom would he not boast? What would the apostle be speaking if he did boast (2 Corinthians 12:6)? But why would the apostle still not boast? What was the thorn in the flesh to prevent from happening (2 Corinthians 12:7)? Whom do we discover, in verse 7, had been the one to whom was given the revelations from 2 Corinthians 12:2-4? Whose messenger was the thorn? What did it do to the apostle? What was the apostle’s response (2 Corinthians 12:8)? How many times? How did the Lord respond in 2 Corinthians 12:9? In what, then, did the apostle decide to boast? What, then, would rest upon him? What five things does he specifically name as giving him pleasure in 2 Corinthians 12:10? For Whose sake? When is the apostle strong?
It’s kind of a strange thing to place extra emphasis upon, by an unnecessary repetition: “whether in the body or out of the body I do not know.” The point seems to be that the apostle is so far from deserving credit for the revelation that he experienced that he does not even know in what manner he was there or received it. So, there is much praise due unto God and His amazing work, but none at all to the powerless man upon whom or through whom that work is done.

That’s a tough lesson to learn. Sometimes, we’re frustrated with ourselves that we might learn something reading the Bible, but discover that we haven’t really learned it, when the very thing that we had resolved against on our knees, comes right out of our hearts as soon as we stand up on our feet.

But our God is not surprised. Our Heavenly Father knows our weakness and gives us what we need to. Whether that painful, temporary discipline to produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness and requisite holiness (cf. Hebrews 12:3-11). Or that thorn in the flesh to keep even his apostle humble. If the one whose mind and pen the Holy Spirit used to write the Scripture needed suffering to train the character of his soul, why would we think that merely reading that Scripture would be enough for us?

The Lord knows the suffering that we need. We might hate it because it exposes our weakness, but isn’t that exactly the point, according to our Scripture today? One of the great reasons for our suffering is for us to be reminded of and feel our weakness. It is in our weakness that the Lord’s strength fulfills one of its great aims: to be displayed in us, because it is our only true source of true strength. God’s sufficient grace, after all, is not only blessing for those who deserve only curse, but also strength for those who have only weakness.

And what strength it is! Don’t we say, “how strong!” when we see someone who can take pleasure in infirmities? Pleasure in reproaches? Pleasure in needs? Pleasure in persecutions? Pleasure in distresses?

But that’s what we say in response to our own infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses. They force us to look away from ourselves and to Christ instead. And, looking to Him, we say, “how strong!”
What opportunities (weakness) is your life currently presenting you to look to Christ and say, “how strong!” How will you be reminding yourself to take that opportunity?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH435 “Not What My Have Done”

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