Sunday, October 14, 2018

 

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9v (NIV)

 

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 

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.


Subject: "Pursued by Grace" (Part II)



I: As noted in last week's sermon, grace is defined as "the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to also bless." God's ability to not only forgive but to also bless is both remarkable and unbelievable. Saint Augustine, one of the most famous and well known Catholic theologians of the 4th century, is known for his literary pieces, "Confessions" and "The City of God" (which singularly shaped the practice of biblical exegesis) believed that "God created us out of God's superabundant love so that we might share in God's divine life and become partakers of the divine nature." Nothing sums up Augustine's theology and belief that God created us to be partakers of divine nature than his thoughts on grace. Augustine noted: "For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them."




II: The Apostle Paul can clearly be identified as the poster boy of grace. Paul unashamedly acknowledges that he's the apostle and man that he is because of the grace of God. Today, Paul reveals to us another side of grace. Paul's recollection of the vision he had pertaining to the "third heaven" is described as something similar to that of the experience Jesus, Peter, James and John had on the Mount of Transfiguration. Because the vision, according to the apostle, was so "surpassingly great," God through Satan gave Paul a thorn in his flesh. Paul believes that God permitted the devil to inflict him with a thorn for one sole purpose. To keep him from becoming conceited! Paul also shares that in the midst of God giving Satan permission to inflict him with a thorn, God also turned grace loose to pursue him.





II: When grace pursues you......



#1) Grace will help you to deal with the thorns in your life



-Paul confesses repeatedly that the thorn was placed in his life to torment him and to keep him from becoming conceited. 



-Scholars have vacillated over several possible painful experiences concerning Paul's thorn. It could have been, 1) depression, 2) disfigurement of facial features, 3) speech handicap or 4) an eye ailment.



-We may not know for sure what the thorn was but we can conclude that the thorn was an annoyance and something Paul felt interfered with his ministry. 



-The amazing thing about God is that God permits Satan to strike Paul with the thorn, then God takes Satan's weapon and uses it to make Paul more powerful than he ever would have been if pride would have occupied space in his life. 



-Another point to note is grace made sure Paul did not misinterpret the thorn to suggest God was mad or angry with him. (point 2 of the sermon)



-This point confirms what the old saints meant by "I'm still here by the grace of God!"






#2) Grace teaches us that God always answers the need even when it feels like God has not answered the prayer




-Paul declares he asked God three times to take the thorn away but God responded, "My grace is sufficient!"




-One scholar noted: "Unanswered prayers does not always mean the need is not met. Sometimes we get a greater blessing when God does not answer our prayers! God always answers the need even though it seems he is not answering the prayer."



-The mere fact that we are still here and surviving the storm, hardship, difficulty or pain, is proof that God has answered our prayers. Maybe its not in the way we'd hoped for!




 

-Paul never prays for grace but that's exactly what God gave him!

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